In 1993 the Folweni Learning Centre in the Umlazi region was constructed by the Isipingo Rotary Club. The Club approached Divine Life Society to participate in the newly created community facility. A large number of women in the neighborhood were unemployed.
The Society, through the kind help of its many patrons and well-wishers throughout the country, donated 20 motorized sewing machines, 10 Olivetti typewriters, 25 hand-operated sewing machines and one copying machine to the institution.
At Ntuzuma, another poverty-stricken area in the north of Durban, a similar need was identified. The St. John Apostolic Mission, under the direction of Rev. Khumalo, was doing its best to serve the local community. The Society worked closely with this organisation. Four typewriters were donated to it. A sewing centre was started with an initial donation of 10 hand-operated machines, since there was no electricity in the area during that time.
At the Umlazi Technical College, a modern sewing centre has been constructed by the Society and is being efficiently run by the College. The Society donated 30 sewing machines to the College.
The first of all sewing centres built by the Society was at Esikhaweni, near Empangeni. This centre, which is being run by the KwaZulu-Natal Government, provides training for about 100 women. The Society also donated 25 electric sewing machines to the centre.
In 2004, Pujya Swamiji decided that the Society administer sewing centres at its Ashrams. The Society currently administers five sewing schools which house 103 industrial and overlock sewing machines. The Administration Centre is located at Sivanandashram, Havenside, Chatsworth. Two other centres are run at our Ashrams in Merebank and Pietermaritzburg. A centre in Tongaat is managed by the Shree Veeraboga Emperumal Temple. The centre at Newlands West is managed by the Sai Organisation, Durban Region, Newlands.
Training is provided mainly to unemployed adults by qualified trainers who are paid by the Society. Training extends for six weeks, eight hours per day. Certificates are awarded to all â€œgraduatesâ€. Since the inception of this project in 2004, 2300 certificates have been issued. Almost all graduates have been absorbed into the industrial sector.
Trainees are provided with an opportunity of securing a free sewing machine, provided they sell a minimum number of garments sewn at their centre. To this end about 2000 sewing machines were purchased.