Weaving for Independence

The hot afternoon is almost over. The clear sky towards the afternoon seemed to make the quiet atmosphere in Nggela 1 village, East Nusa Tenggara, even more pronounced. Once or twice there was the sound of children laughing at each other. Also the sound of splashing water from women who are washing household appliances.

In the middle of the traditional village area, everything feels calmer. In one of the houses, lived Fransiska Lusia Weti. She is 43 years old, mother of a 6 year old boy. Every day, Fransiska Lusia Weti, who is usually called Kaka Siska, works as a temporary administrative staff at the Nggela Village Office.

Usually, Nggela women who work in an office do not do weaving work, due to lack of time and the hassle of taking care of office work and domestic tasks at the same time, but not Kaka Siska. Although every Monday-Friday she works at the village office, serving the needs of the community and when she arrives home she still has to take care of domestic matters, she still does weaving work.

“Weaving makes me more patient”

said Kaka Siska

This is indeed reflected in her calm demeanour, and her smooth, firm and well-organized speech. With all the limited time she has, she can weave one scarf in 2 months, or one sarong in 4 months.

With this condition Kaka Siska remains faithful in weaving, because according to her this is one of the contributions she can make to the Lio culture, in order to continue to be able to maintain the cultural heritage of her ancestors. She learned to weave from her mother and did not make economic goals in the process of her weaving work.

But her views have changed slightly since she joined the Mandiri Bersama Tenun training, which was conducted by the Kami Latu Initiative. This training was part of the Employment and Livelihood project jointly organised by four United Nations (UN) agencies in Indonesia, including the ILO. This project was funded by the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN-MTPF) and aimed to provide equal opportunities for vulnerable groups in improving their income and quality of life.

"We deeply hope that this programme can empower the women of Kampung Adat Nggela, so that they are able to support their family while sustaining a valuable cultural inheritance," said Navitri Putri Guillaume, ILO's National Project Officer.

In this training, she learned about the development of simpler weaving motifs, which did not leave elements of tradition, but could better answer the need for the manufacture of woven derivative products. In addition, with the development of new motifs, it can reduce processing time. If she usually does one shawl within 2 months, then with a motif that is more adapted to the needs of product derivatives, she can make one shawl in less than three weeks. In two months now she can produce 3 scarves. If usually in two months she gets an additional income of Rp600,000 from weaving one shawl, now she earns Rp1.2 million in two months by selling 3 woven scarves.

In addition, thanks to the Mandiri Bersama Tenun training, Kaka Siska now has additional skills, namely making accessories; bracelets, earrings and necklaces made using woven materials and leftover threads. On Christmas 2021, she and several other weaving groups received orders for 50 sets of accessories consisting of bracelets, necklaces and earrings.

“I hope to have further opportunities to share the results of my weaving work with other weavers, to penetrate a larger market. I also want to be able to work with Kami Latu to be able to make and sell woven derivative products in more diverse forms,” said Kaka Siska.