Sikhay means "Sikap Buhay," a Filipino phrase meaning "self-empowerment". Set up on March 2, 1996, Sikhay started as a sewing project of the Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), implemented under its Alternative Livelihood Program. Sikhay serves a three-pronged objective:
- As therapy for the women
- Training ground for entrepreneurial development and management
- A vehicle for advocacy for the continuing plight of migrant women.
The program started with two borrowed sewing machines and several batik cloths in a small room in the DAWN office. Edging and button-holing were done in a market nearby. Today, Sikhay boasts of high-speed sewing machines, edging machine, button-holers, cutter, weaving machines, dyeing vessels and its own production room.
Trainings are conducted at DAWN Center and Sikhay’s sewing room and at various training centers like the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Sikhay members have acquired the skills needed to produce quality products like vests, pants, wrap-around skirts, bags, aprons, letter-, pen-, card-, eyeglass-, pot-, and passport holders out of batik and other indigenous materials, tie-dyed shirts, as well as handwoven scarves, shawls, table runners, placemats, and bags.
Sikhay is not only confined to learning the skills. In producing materials using the skills they’ve developed, women are likewise trained to become efficient and responsible in handling tasks relevant to the program.
The products are marketed and sold in various local bazaars especially in Japan through the assistance of DAWN-Japan and some of DAWN networks such as:
- Global World NARUNIA-Niigata
- Peace Boat-Tokyo
- Jichiro- Tokyo
- Yoriko Nakahira (Children’s Culture and Studies)- Saitama
- Empowerment for All (EFA)-Tokyo
- Yumeuta- Saitama
- DAWN-KUIS- Chiba
- Kansai University-Yoshida Seminar- Osaka
DAWN and Sikhay products have generated goodwill that some individuals and shops in Japan have offered to help market its products.
DAWN continues to assist women members in setting up small-scale livelihood projects that they can manage on their own. Some of DAWN’s trained women have already opted to put up their own small business or to apply their skills outside the Sikhay program. Proving that, indeed, their self-confidence have been developed and they have already learned to be more self-reliant and independent which facilitate their reintegration into the society.