Helen Mitchell of WoW at Regional Conference

Helen Mitchell (second from the left) with club members and a selection of the wonderful WoW bags.


For many years SI Winchester has enthusiastically supported the Wonders of Waste, an ecological livelihood project for two small groups of women in the Philippines.  The project was set up and is run by Helen Mitchell so we were delighted that Helen’s recent visit to the UK coincided with our Regional Conference at Denbies Vineyard.  Helen attended as our guest speaker.  She showed us a video which traced the history of the project back to the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.  This dumped millions of tons of ash and debris over a wide area, making farms unusable and over 100,000 people homeless.

The immediate challenge was to resettle people and to provide the basics of shelter, water and sanitation. The ongoing challenge was to provide livelihoods for the displaced people. This is where Helen and the WoW project comes in.  It provides a basic level of income for the women involved as well giving them training in various aspects of running a business. The women make the bags from used juice packs which have been discarded and so the project also contributes to improving their local environment.

Helen explained the process of sourcing the raw materials, making the bags and the quality control that is practised at all stages.   She also told us a little about her own history and about the lives of the women engaged in making these colourful “Fruits of the Philippines”.

SI Winchester took the opportunity to show and sell the bags to delegates from other clubs and did a roaring trade!

For more information on the project, click here.