SHAH ALAM: SERUM is known as a social enterprise that provides hygiene supplies and economic empowerment to the underserved communities. This article reveals how Pakistani refugees in Lady Ayaz Sewing Centre are being empowered economically by SERUM.
Lady Ayaz Sewing Centre was established by a group of Pakistani refugee women who are proud to contribute to their families' welfare and to helping others in the Pakistani community. The centre is a refugee-run women’s empowerment Organization which opened in 2016 with a grant from the UNHCR and the Pakistani Community. They sew bags and pouches for brands like Uniqlo, Pearly Wong and Ginger Batik. “Lady Ayaz” was named after an expatriate lady who supported the starting of this business as a remembrance. Starting with 10 sewing machines, there are 10 artisans working in the centre currently.
[Sales before SERUM]
Previously, Lady Ayaz focused on selling their products in the bazaar. The sales were poor in 2019 and 2020. During MCO period back in 2020, they hardly sold anything, except for some walk-in, small purchases. “I would prefer an online business, that involves receiving pre-orders from customers and collecting the charges from them later, rather than selling in the bazaar. It was very stressful and time-consuming, as often, we brought the products there and had 0 sales at all.” said Sister Ansa, the co-founder of Lady Ayaz Sewing Centre.
[Sales after SERUM]
“Hopefully by receiving SERUM’s help in starting an online business, we would be able to have better sales. I am grateful towards SERUM, as their intervention has brought us new business opportunities in producing community face masks. We started earning from the production of community face masks since the MCO period.They even provide us with training in online business.” said Sister Ansa.
[Pakistani community life]
Besides that, SERUM team members, Yen Xin and Ashley Leow got to understand more about Paskitani community life from Sister Ansa. “Majority of the people in Pakistan were extremist, especially in terms of religion. We had a hard time surviving there, with people rejecting our business. My little son had been very confused and scared when people were raising slogans and throwing stones towards us. As a mother, I want to protect my son and give him a better life. It is not a safe country for women, and kids, which was the main reason I decided to move to another country (Malaysia).”said Sister Ansa.
[Dream for the artisans]
Sister Ansa hopes to give her team and those needy refugees out there a chance to work and earn together. Her main goal is to offer support, help and training to people in need out there through her sewing centre. “For example, we have a lady here, who has a little kid to raise, unfortunately her husband cannot work due to a gunshot injury which causes mobility limitations.”said Sister Ansa.
[Highlights from SERUM team members]
“Through this visit, I've witnessed the production of SERUM reusable face masks. I've discovered that behind every face mask, there's hope to live a better life. It also made me realize that what we, SERUM, are doing means a lot to the Pakistani Artisan.” said Ashley Leow.
“I am glad that I had the chance to visit Lady Ayaz Sewing Centre to understand the Pakistani refugee’s condition. I was really amazed by their efforts of trying their best to make a living even though the reality is harsh to them.”said Yen Xin.
Group photo taken before leaving LASC centre, SERUM members(white shirt) and LASC staff.