Tuesday, December 08, 2009

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Female inmates in Georgia follow felt courses. By Nino Akhvlediani-Hulst.

As part of a social assistance programme, eight female inmates in Georgia’s 5th Female Colony are following weekly felt courses. This aims to increase their skills in working with felt, and to prepare them for a professional life after their time in prison. The results are astonishing.

The eight women have been engaged since early October 2009 in weekly feltmaking sessions, under the guidance of Georgian fashion designer and felt maker Nino Akhvlediani-Hulst. Although none of them had had any exposure to working with felt prior to their conviction, within a few months the
women demonstrated remarkable progress, getting some time off from the everyday prison routine to work in the prison’s atelier.

Sharing particular skills and techniques with each other while working, they have produced an amazing variety of works, using high-quality Caucasian and Merino wool with interesting colour combinations.

The most successful creations will soon be exposed to the outside world, showing the tremendous skills that these female inmates possess and thus enhancing their self-esteem. The intention is to keep on mentoring the women including when they are released from prison, accompanying them towards reintegration into society.

Those with particular interest and talent will require assistance to develop their potentials and possibly turn their newlyfound dedication into gainful business. It would be great if they made a profession out of the activity that they have been wholeheartedly investing their time and energy in over the past few months.

The women have meanwhile created their own brand name called “Dream No. 5”. Using this joint brand name they will further develop their products.

This project has been implemented by the NGO “Peoni”, with support from the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia and with financial support from the Government of Norway (NORLAG), Penal Reform International, the Polish Embassy and the European Commission.

For more information on this story, please contact Nino Akhvlediani-Hulst at ninodiani@hotmail.com

A felt turtle that the female inmates produced for kids in a Tbilisi orphanage

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