Maria Skouras

Maria Skouras (eHomemakers): Maria describes herself as a life-long learner. She earned a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, a Masters of Science degree from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a Master of the Arts from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science in Cultural Sociology. She then worked for seven years as the Senior Policy Analyst in NYU’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. Maria has been an active board member of The Posterus Foundation, a nonprofit based in New York City, studied abroad in Italy, London, China and Hong Kong and traveled extensively through the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. After her fellowship Maria wrote: "Speaking with locals and living in a country is the best way to learn about the real lives of citizens, not just the stories in the mainstream media. I will be more critical of what I read as a result of this experience.”



Intro to the Salaam Wanita Eco-Basket Project

11 Feb

eHomemakers empowers women who need to work from home to balance their familial responsibilities with employment.  One of eH’s primary missions is to train women who are homebound due to mental and physical disabilities and chronic diseases to support themselves.  In some cases, the women are staying home to take care of children and dependents that have disabilities.

A lack of finances and resources has deterred many of these women from getting an education or gaining computer skills.   As a result, they have never had the opportunity to work and have become accustom to rejection from employers, classmates, and family members.  These constraints have contributed to a lack of self-worth and struggles with depression.

Early in the process of creating eHomemakers, C2 realized that she would need other ways than computer technology to help underserved women help themselves.  C2 was looking for another skill that interested women could acquire from home when she met a woman who had developed a basic weaving process out of discarded magazines.  This was the answer C2 was looking for – an eco-friendly activity that women could do from home without purchasing materials!

Salaam Wanita Eco-Baskets

Salaam Wanita Eco-Baskets

In 2002, eH started providing basic eco-basket training sessions for low-income women in Ipoh and Klang Valley.  Since then, over 170 women have been trained and the weavers have developed more complex and intricate patterns that make the Salaam Wanita eco-baskets stand out from competitors.  (Salaam Wanita means “Recognizing Women.”) Their willingness to try something new, determination to conquer the frustrations involved with mastering the weaving process, and originality in creating new designs illustrates how successful each of these women can be when presented an opportunity.  Click here to view some brief videos explaining the eco-basket project and learn more about the weavers.

The eH staff members help market and sell the baskets at local bazaars, places of worship, schools, in stores, and online through the Justmarketing website.  In return, the weavers receive fair wages for their work and are able to improve their families’ quality of life.  While it isn’t easy to build partnerships to sell the baskets to international markets, I am working with the eH staff to bolster their outreach efforts.

In future posts, I’ll go more into depth on the challenges that eH, the weavers, and the eco-basket project face.  Thanks for reading.

Posted By Maria Skouras

Posted Feb 11th, 2011

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