Lalaina Raharindimby is SEPALIM’s accountant and the head of the women’s workshop. She began working with the organization in 2010 as a volunteer before accepting a paid position in 2011. She first worked as an assistant to collect data about the communities that SEPALIM worked with. Then, she began organizing women farmer’s groups in each of the four villages where we originally worked. She would visit each group once a month and worked to teach them how to make rearing baskets for the silkworm pupae and selecting cocoons. Starting in 2012, she invited each women’s group to attend a workshop at the SEPALIM office twice a year to learn how to sew the cocoons into a non-spun textile. When that work was completed, she took over accounting and would explain the farming and accounting system to lead farmers. In particular, she would explain how our “famous” cocoon bank would work for the farmers. As the accountant, she keeps track of cocoon deposits, payments to farmers, and inviting women to join the SEPALIM sewing groups. These invitations were initially based on the number of cocoons deposited into the bank by their family.
Currently, Lalaina focuses on recruiting new artisans, in particular women, to work with the SEPALIM team. That work involves speaking to their families to explain our work and mission and how the artisans benefit from working with SEPALIM. During silk production workshops, Lalaina oversees the quality of the women's work to make sure the sewing and final silk is neat and clean. Lalaina is also the head of our card-weaving program, which is her specialty. She teaches new artisan weavers designs and how to select color and pattern for raffia straps.
Lalaina says that she really likes working with the farmers and women. Her favorite part of the project is when a designer visits and the groups have a workshop with them and, afterwards, sharing her knowledge with the women. She also emphasizes the powerful impact the SEPALIM project has on the community’s women. She says that through this program, women can earn enough money to ensure the education of their children without depending on their husbands. This includes things like having enough money to buy their children school supplies and pay the scholar fees.
As Cay steps back from the program, Lalaina has some promising ideas for where to take the artisan program. These goals include selecting a few products from the several that SEPALIM has developed that are sustainably marketable in the long term, in order to ensure the financial stability of the project. She wishes to foster and maintain long term relationships with product buyers and to increase production of the marketable products.
All in all, the SEPALIM artisan team is very lucky to have Lalaina leading them! She is driven and resourceful, and without her leadership over the past decade, the SEPALIM project and especially its women’s groups would not have seen the successes that they have. Thank you, Lalaina!