How many of us women had sighed in frustration over a broken extension cord, or had car trouble, or had problems with the plumbing, and each time, had to call a man to fix it because we simply were not taught how to? The Xena Project founded by Nadeeni Perera is here to change that.
Speaking to Perera on what to expect, she explained that The Xena Project will be empowering women to rescue themselves from falling prey to household chores we don’t get training for – like basic plumbing, electrical, or car maintenance.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time – since school, probably – we only had home science for O/L’s, but in boys’ schools, they are taught plumbing and have woodwork classes and so on,” Perera told us, when talking about the life-long dream that her brain child had been.
She had always had an interest in cars as well, but she never had the opportunity to learn about them: “Since I never did, I thought I’d create the opportunity for other women.” She added that these skills are not passed on and many don’t have an avenue to learn them, which is why she created The Xena Project.
Since Perera lives alone with her mother, she is tasked with all the household maintenance. She expressed how important it is to know how to fix things – nothing major – just the small issues where you shouldn’t have to call someone else to fix. She added that sometimes you don’t even know who to call: “So by learning these practical, hands on skills, we can be more independent.”
We asked Perera if she will be teaching the classes, to which she told us that no, she will not, since there is a lot that she too needs to learn. The Xena Project has employed a few instructors who will be conducting a few courses along the way, starting off with a basic car maintenance class that will run for a month or two, and then will move on to basic electronics. During the car maintenance course, these women will be taught car jargon that sometimes the employees at garages use to confuse women and hike up prices. They will also be taught other simple skills like changing a tire, what the dashboard means, how to check water levels, maintaining the exterior, how to identify when the car is having issues, and more.
She did add that the electronic class will take a while to set up because she is in need of a location. Listing other programmes to expect, she said they’ll have basic carpentry, plumbing, and other skills like fixing up a hole in the wall, how to tile, mixing cement, and the like.
A class will be priced at Rs. 2,500, but Perera said that if anyone was to have issues paying, they can sort something out since her main goal is to get the knowledge out.
She truly believes that these classes will help women become more independent and go out into society with the capability of living on their own. “I’m doing it, my sister is doing it. It’s not written anywhere that we need a man to live. For the majority of the time we do things by ourselves – if something breaks around the house, I will YouTube how to fix it, and only if it fails do I call someone,” she said.
It’s simply a matter of not being taught these basic life skills.
Talking about her future plans for The Xena Project, she explained that she wants to gain some traction out of the current classes and let the word spread. Her next step is to approach corporates that have empowerment programmes for women and urge them to invest in their ladies and allow them to be independent. Next, she will approach girls’ schools and teach these skills to the batch of students that is closest to leaving school, so that they have this knowledge when they enter the world. She also wants to take it to driving schools and allow women who are about to get their licence to take the course so they can learn about basics on maintaining a car like understanding what’s under the hood and how it works.
In the long run, Perera said that she wants to create a network: “If a woman is in trouble somewhere out of Colombo, I want to be able to give them a number of someone they can reach out to inside that particular district,” and she also hopes to partner up with someone who can help her achieve this.
Registration link: https://bit.ly/REGISTER-XENA
For more information on the time and date of the class, check out their Facebook page.
Facebook: The Xena Project