Sitio Kiminawit is a small fishing village where houses are perched upon stilts just reaching out of the water. Early in the morning, the people of the barangay are already awake and about. Children walk towards the elementary school building in the middle of the village, the men set out to fish in nearby waters, and the women meet to discuss their newfound passion: entrepreneurship. Described by outsiders as sweet, charming, and above all hospitable, these women have historically been homemakers, but that is all about to change.
Like the face of a cliff holding the wild waters at bay, the women of Sitio Kiminawit have always been steadfast supporters of programs organized by Ten Knots for their community over the years. From the Fishing with the Community program for their husbands to the Hooks to Books educational program for their children, they have always welcomed visitors with a smile and a home-cooked meal. As the backbones of the community, it was long overdue that the women received the support to empower themselves.
To address this gap, a month-long My Future, My Oceans program was held in 2018 that empowered 65 mothers to adopt eco-friendly practices for healthier families, happier lives, and a cleaner environment. Building upon this momentum, the women from Sitio Kiminawit—organized into a women’s collective called KimiNANAY—partnered with El Nido Resorts and Conservation Sewmates in 2019 to learn how to sew stuffed turtles, with the hope of developing an alternative livelihood program for them down the line. The COVID-19 pandemic halted the production of the turtles and further training sessions, leaving the women back where they started.
Swipe through to see how the women of Sitio Kiminawit learned essential sewing skills through Conservation Sewmates!
To address the economic setback brought by the pandemic to the women of Sitio Kiminawit, Ten Knots is kicking off the KimiNANAY Sewing for Sustainability Fundraiser, which seeks to raise 600 USD (30,000 PHP) for sewing machines that will be used to develop an alternative and sustainable livelihood program to train KimiNANAY members on mask-making. Not only will these women gain independence through the ability to sell reusable face masks, but they will also gain a critical new source of revenue. As studies have shown that women’s financial empowerment is integral to the entire economic prosperity of communities, this alternative livelihood program has the potential to impact more than the lives of its fifteen participants. Even after mask-wearing will no longer be required, the women can employ these same skills to produce stuffed animals that can be sold in the resort gift shops.
The women of Sitio Kiminawit have the passion and drive necessary to make a sustainable business that can elevate their village and more importantly, their families. However, sewing has high startup costs and this is where you come in. With just $5, the price of one Starbucks drink, you can contribute to purchasing the sewing machines that these women need to fulfill their dreams—empowering them, fostering their financial independence, boosting their climate resiliency, and advancing sustainability.
Scan the QR codes below to help the KimiNANAY women kickstart their sustainable livelihoods! If you’re based in the Philippines, you may send in your contributions to the BPI and GCASH Accounts below. If you’re based in the United States, you may donate using the Venmo account below.
Izzy George is a rising junior at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. majoring in Science, Technology, and International Affairs. Originally from North Carolina, USA, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and backpacking in her free time. In the future, she hopes to unlock the synergies between sustainable resource management and economic development to address challenges surrounding food security, gender equity, and climate change.
Carsten Schoer is an International Business and Finance major at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. On campus, he is part of Zeeba Investment Fund and the Compass Fellowship among other organizations. With a passion for social impact, DEI, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability, Carsten strives to improve any environment he finds himself in.