Fanshawe faculty members hold carpentry workshop promoting female empowerment

A photo of the women of Munoz posing with the wagons they built. CREDIT: JENNIFER SANDERS
A workshop organized by Fanshawe School of Design faculty members saw 24 women in the Dominican Republic build wagons to help serve members of the community in need.

Over the summer, faculty members from the School of Design at Fanshawe organized a carpentry workshop in a village in the Dominican Republic. In May, Jennifer Sanders, in collaboration with Niagara University, conducted a study on the village homes in Muñoz, Dominican Republic. Sanders, along with faculty members Julie McIntyre and Elayne Wood-Lauersen, assessed the housing conditions and then came together to gain ideas about how to improve the living conditions of the homes with the hope of also using the data from this study to expand teaching practices and incorporate findings into classroom assignments and Signature Innovative Learning Experience (SILEx) opportunities.

Following the assessment, faculty then provided a hands-on carpentry workshop aimed at the mothers and daughters in the village that focused on teaching them skills that may help the community in a time of need. Sanders helped organize the trip and build upon the existing program’s focus, which is to promote female empowerment in trades.

“The project essentially started…as part of the completion of my Masters, and the inspiration for working with women… on carpentry came from a desire to continue to promote women in the trades. The carpentry workshop itself was geared at mothers and daughters specifically for that reason,” Sanders said.

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During the workshop, 24 women came together to build five wagons to help serve members of the community in need, helping transport children to and from school or helping to grow a small business by assisting in the transportation of goods to sell.

“The reason for wagons being selected as the carpentry project was because of the work that was done to investigate the living conditions within the village and that there are a lot of young mothers and a lot of women that are supporting their families in small businesses and entrepreneurial efforts, like selling fruit,” Sanders said. “When we looked at a lot of these businesses that the women were conducting out of their homes to support their families, this idea of having a wagon in the family, assisted them in all kinds of areas.”

By the end of the trip, the overall enjoyment of the workshop brought joy and a sense of pride to the community of Muñoz, which delighted Sanders and her team.

“There was an incredible sense of pride with what they had built themselves again, the fact that they felt it with their own two hands and then they owned it and were able to take it home and that was now something that belonged to their family.” said Sanders.