As part of the program, 22 trans women received training in organic soap making, arts and crafts, photo frames, candle making, etc.
In February, a six-day training workshop for trans women was held in Chennais Perumbakkam, led by Olga B Aaron, a trans women activist. The aim of the workshop was to encourage trans women to become entrepreneurs. As part of this program, in which 22 trans women from Mappedu, Thazhambur, Perumbakkam, TNHB, Semmancherry, Kannaginagar, Taramani, Pallikaranai and Keezhakkattalai participated, training in organic soap making, arts and crafts businesses such as pen holders, photo frames and badges was carried out and fridge magnets and Candle making.
Olga, who founded the BRAVOH movement BRAVOH in 2009 to create fair value for humanity, said the idea behind this project was to ensure that trans women are given equal opportunities to develop their employability skills. Olga organized a similar culinary program for about 20 trans women in 2019, and she says that such a training program would serve as exposure for trans women who have been neglected by their families.
“Many trans women in society are shunned by their families, the stigma around them starts at a very young age and they tend to withdraw from society. Rehabilitation programs become very difficult for them. To be honest, we can’t just suddenly dive into their lives and ask them to drop everything they do, ”explains Olga.
“I just wanted to show them that they can be self-employed. My girls, who completed the culinary training program, still work in grocery stores today, some on organic farms. So this is just an idea to create an opportunity. It doesn’t create employment, it creates employability, ”she continues. “It creates skills for the future … or today.”
Olga, who is part of the Tamil Nadu Transgender Welfare Board, has been tasked with paying out the Coronavirus Relief Fund. “While traveling all over Chennai, I found these women in remote parts of the city. They weren’t exposed to anything. I was in contact with a very friendly organization in Perumbakkam called Samarpanam, which helped me mobilize the participants, ”says Olga.
At the end of the program, participants were taken to local organic stores to get a feel for how their products are being marketed. Materials were also made available to participants to continue their work. “We’re trying to reach out to support groups, Rotaract clubs, etc. who can help move this forward. Many health food stores have shown their support by agreeing to give us a counter, ”explains Olga.
“I thought of naming the product Truvina, which means acting with respect. But it’s up to women to decide, ”she adds.
In the future, Olga plans to visit some of the participants regularly for 15 days to help them make soap, introduce new products, etc. “The workshop was a success just because 100% showed up every six days. The women were extremely cooperative, very attentive and focused. It shows promise. I have high hopes that, if not today, they will become businesswomen in the future. Motivation is all that matters, ”says Olga.