One of the most common trees in the tropics is the coconut tree. As much as this tree is pleasing to the eye along coastal areas it has a multitude of uses as almost every part of the tree can be put to practical use from the bark to the flowers, to the fruit and leaves.
While handicrafts are also made with coconut shells, now coconut shell jewellery is aiming to set a new trend. ‘Cocoshel Jewellery’, launched just last week is part of an initiative begun to uplift the lives of women in Kiriella.
The women’s society – Mahausakande Kantha Samithiya was formed in the village of Hindurangala in 2007 and is one of the twin initiatives of the Mahausakande Project which was set up by the Ellawala Development Foundation.
“The women’s society was formed to get support for the main project, that of protecting the tropical rainforest,” says trustee and coordinator of the project Nalini Ellawala. She says by getting the women in the village involved, they can work towards their goal, that of regenerating the rainforests.
Families in this village face the usual problems, such as alcohol abuse, poaching, illicit gemming as well as a lack of sensitivity to the environment. “The women oil the wheels,” Ms Ellawala says, adding, that this is why they were brought in to form a society and by doing so, they have a chance of a creating a source of income through teaching them handicrafts.
With the idea of preserving the environment as well as to creating a natural habitat for indigenous species and support the livelihood of local communities residing in the Kiriella area HSBC, partnered with the Ellawala Charitable Trust in February 2008. Fifty women and their families living in Hindurangala will benefit through employment opportunities that will be generated in the Kiriella area through various microfinance programmes that promote the production of environment-friendly handcrafts.
The Mahausakanda site will also be developed as an Environment Awareness Centre where environmental awareness programmes will be conducted.
“We were financially sound in 2008 so we decided to go into handicrafts,” says Ms. Ellawala adding, “The women then decided to specialise in coconut jewellery.” When they approached Odel with their range they had noticed it was certainly something different and would be popular among their customers.
Through the project these women can earn between Rs. 7,000 and Rs. 8,000 on a monthly basis by working from their homes.
The Cocoshel Jewellery line including necklaces and ear-rings for women as well as pendants for men was launched at Odel on March 31. The packaging is eco-friendly too.