As a co-operative, Gay Lea Foods is dedicated to supporting communities in Canada—where our facilities are located and where our members and employees live, work and play. We also want to help those in need and support communities around the world. The Gay Lea Foundation, a registered charity, was created four years ago to do just that.
In 2018, the Foundation supported the Canada Africa Community Health Alliance’s Tchukudu Women’s Training Centre (TWC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The TWC is a place for women fleeing war in their villages to train in a new skill and begin a solo or co-operative business so they can support themselves and their families.
TWC has only two rooms. One room is for first-year training, where women share sewing machines and learn together; in the other, women are provided with their own sewing machine and learn individually. A small outdoor area was previously used for basket-weaving but is now used for tie-dye.
The centre maybe be humble - but the centre is powerful. Upon graduation from sewing and tie-dye training, the women receive supplies and materials to start their own businesses, called Exit Kits.
Since its inception, 48 women have graduated and started their own sewing co-operatives. This empowers them as economic agents in their communities. It gives them provision and hope for their families. It changes lives.
The centre is now working on a Sanitary Pad Development Project, where embroidery and sewing machines will be permanent and sanitary pads will be made and warehoused. The centre will use Gay Lea Foundation funds to purchase a generator and two embroidery machines once a home for the project is built. This too powers change.
In helping grow success, personally and professionally, TWC is exactly the kind of initiative the Gay Lea Foundation is proud to support.
The Gay Lea Foundation is a collaborative forum for Gay Lea Foods and its members, directors and employees to provide more than $200,000 annually to support education, poverty relief, co-operative development and community well-being projects, nationally and internationally.