Marie Schlei Association – Help for Women in Africa, Asia and Latin America

Who we are - what we do
The Marie Schlei Association is a non profit German non-governmental organization raising funds for small-scale professional training projects for women in the South. The association was founded in 1984 in memory of Marie Schlei, former German minister for development policy who was the first to integrate women's needs into development. The association's assistance mainly focuses on training projects that enable women to enhance their income in order to provide them with the means to improve their own and their children's living conditions. This is possible by improving technical, organizational, business and professional skills of women, because women are 2/3 of the illiterate population and very rarely have access to professional training.
 
The association has cooperated with women in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Women in 300 projects have acquired a large variety of skills, e.g. in agriculture, in fruit and vegetable production, conservation and marketing, in cattle and goat keeping, in tailoring, embroidery, carpentry , leather-works, in bookkeeping, marketing, fish-production, technical skills etc. The projects are designed, prepared and carried out by the women themselves or by a women's organization directly working with our target groups.
Self-help activities are a very important part if not the most important part in the struggle of women for more rights and a better life. The Marie Schlei Association demonstrates solidarity with women in the South by giving financial support to self-help activities directed towards enhancing education of women. At the same time the Marie Schlei Association provides in Germany information, conferences and seminars on the women in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Gender equality and promotion of women are the challenges of this millennium.

Project examples
Sri Lanka – A new perspective for Tsunami victims
Women are especially affected by the Tsunami. 3300 women of our partner organization agromart (Sri Lanka) lost their homes, production and sales places, the tools, the working material, their storage and economic future. They escaped the poverty trap but now are there again. These women have been qualified by the training courses in economic literacy, food processing, entrepreneurship and different other activities. They could earn their living. Now they start from zero. Production, sales and training centres in Hambantota, Matara and Galle will help them to organize their survival and to train young women. More then 100 women will be active in lace making, ornamental fish, herbal products, sewing and handicraft or bridal dressings. They will address to the local markets but also sell to tourists. For the first time women entrepreneurs organize themselves in production and sales societies.
Ecuador - Herbal medicine cultivation
Organic products and alternative medicines are enjoying an ever-growing popularity in Ecuador. In Quito more and more shops are offering remedies from plant extracts. This has also to do with the prices of this medicine everybody can afford and the absence of negative side-effects. The women of the Llano Grande community near Quito are making good use of this trend. Together with Quilago, its long-standing partner organisation, the Marie Schlei Association runs a training project in the cultivation and processing of herbal medicine. Traditional knowledge and modern production technology are combined. The participants learn about the production of plant extract pesticides and its proper use, they are building up a plant school, acquiring knowledge about seed extraction and growth. Also lessons in the use of herbal medicine, learning about nutrition and alternative cooking as well as conservation are integrated in the training. At the end of the training some of the trainees will share their knowledge throughout the region.
Tanzania – Job training as a way out of prostitution.
In Tanzania a lot of young girls become pregnant. They lose the assistance of their families and drop out of school. They have no home and no jobs and their babies do not get enough to eat. Without an alternative the teenager mothers will be forced into prostitution. The demand for young prostitutes is very high as their clients feel that they have less chance of contracting the HIV virus, which is widely spread in Tanzania. Without training the teenager mothers have no chance. The Marie Schlei Association and the Mary Knoll Sisters provide an important step in helping these teenager mothers out of prostitution. In the Mary Knoll Sisters’ training centre in Iringa the teenager mothers qualify in business, textiles, farming and food production. Due to the serious Aids problem in Iringa medical information and medical care is an integral part of the project. Another very important aspect for the teenager mothers is that there is child care in the centre.

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