Since Smethwick’s Bangladeshi Islamic Centre (BIC) began their fruit carving course earlier this year, a huge buzz has been created amongst the local women. People who have never considered enrolling on courses before have been unable to resist the creative lure of fruit carving. The sessions were organised via BIC’s Women’s Development project funded by the Big Lottery Fund and has attracted over 40 regular attendants.
Women were taught by a professional tutor how to create innovative designs with various fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, water melons, cucumbers and carrots. This was a great way to teach new skills and educate about healthy eating for the family and empower women.
The sessions were free for locals and they all enjoyed the hands on learning experience. Attendants on the fruit carving course felt they benefited in many ways; some said they learnt new skills, whilst others said they enjoyed the social interaction as they were otherwise isolated. One women quoted “I feel empowered enough to go and set up my own enterprise” as a result of attending these sessions.
In order to give these women an opportunity to showcase the skills they have acquired, BIC has invited local women to participate in a competition, to design and present their fruit carving display in front of hundreds during the SWFITE (Supporting Women From Isolation to Empowerment) Launch in September.
BIC also held a small celebration event at the end of the Fruit Carving course, to which women brought food and fruits which they had prepared themselves. Rehana Begum, the Women’s Development worker said “it’s so pleasing to see isolated women of all ages come together and have fun and learn at the same time.” She recalls on the celebration day one elderly women phoned and said that due to her personal circumstance she was unable partake in the food but wanted to come along to be with her newly made friends.
The Centre manager, Abdul Subhan, also a local resident said, “As a local community activist I can clearly observe the overwhelming happiness and pride local women are engaging in at the moment. It is well documented that most of these women are faced with multiple deprivation and this programme has empowered them to become active and engaged citizens of the community. One grandmother told me, ‘I hired professionals at my children’s wedding to prepare the wedding thaal (decorative food platter) for the bride and groom. However, at my grandchildren’s wedding they will be eating a thaal made by their grandmother’. I feel proud that BIC played a part in this grandmother’s success story”.
There are many different services the Bangladeshi Islamic Centre provides. Please visit the website, www.bicentre.org.uk or call on 0121 5588204 to find out more about the services on offer.