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Handicraft expert honoured

Published:Wednesday | November 25, 2015 | 9:10 AMOrantes Moore


After years of hard work promoting and teaching a rare form of traditional Jamaican embroidery known as hardanga, handicraft expert Norma Nugent was honoured last week with an award at a special ceremony in Port Maria, St Mary.

Hardanga is a complex sewing style similar to crochet, which Nugent and dozens of her colleagues in Richmond and Highgate, St Mary, have utilised for the past three decades to create employment and revenue.

Their unique and elaborate handiwork has established central St Mary as the Caribbean's hardanga capital and highlighted how an apparently obsolete

art form can help to elevate

and enrich underdeveloped communities.

Further development

As she proudly and gently

cradled her award, Nugent noted the hardanga project had expanded considerably following a donation of $5 million from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund two years ago, with plans for further development in 2016.

She told Rural Xpress: "I'm feeling great at the moment because I just got first prize in the category of Best Local Economic Development Support Programme at the St Mary Community Incentive and Grants Programme Awards.

"For me, this award recognises that community groups are important because when you build the community, you build the nation. Our group gets support from

people who are inspired by what we do; so they help us to develop our communities.

"I think it is really important for people to support their communities because without vibrant and healthy communities, the country will go down."

Looking ahead, Nugent hopes to organise a series of luncheons and concerts to raise more funds next year. She said: "Presently, there are three children to whom we have given scholarships; two attend St Mary Technical High School and the other attends St Mary High.

"It's going great, but we expect to improve on what we are doing now because we want to give back even more to the community; so next year, with support from some of our churches, we are hoping to increase the number of children to whom we give scholarships."

Social Development Comm-ission manager for St Mary Travis Graham, who organised the award ceremony, hailed Nugent's hardanga project as a model example of a creative, sustainable and income-generating local economic initiative.