NEW SKILLS:Jaro volunteers participate in a workshop to learn the the art and business of making soaps and candles
THE Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (Jaro) held a one-day workshop on soap and candle-making in cooperation with the Malaysia Palm Oil Board (MPOB) recently.
By having this workshop, Jaro hopes to interest participants in setting up soap and candle businesses of their own.
Jaro, a registered charity, provides rehabilitation to the physically and mentally disabled, spastics, and the visual and hearing-impaired. It receives annual government grants and public donations and supports itself by marketing its products.
"The aim of this workshop is to enable participants to learn a new skill to enable them to help diversify the product base in Jaro," said Jaro's honorary secretary, Annie Thomas.
She said the workshop will also help participants to earn a side income should they use their new-found skills to start their own cottage industry.
"I learnt that soaps can be made from palm oil," said Noraiza Mokhtar, a hearing-impaired Jaro staff, through sign language interpreter, Siti Hanim M. Zulkepli.
She and her hearing-impaired colleagues, Rafizah Abd Rhani and Nor'ain Goh Abdullah, paid rapt attention to the presentations on soap and candle-making.
They later had hands-on experience by actively taking part in demonstrations.
"We are keen to be pioneers if Jaro starts a soap-making section," said Noraiza.
Founded in 1952 as a rehabilitation centre for tuberculosis patients, Jaro has evolved into an established rehabilitation centre recognized for its quality training and products.
Many disabled employees have benefited from the opportunities provided by the bookbinding, basketry, tailoring and handicraft sections of Jaro, while some who are trained, have found employment elsewhere.
Through an informative visual presentation, participants were introduced to MPOB and its technology by MPOB Advanced Oleochemical Technology Division (AOTD) director, Dr Hazimah Abu Hassan.
Then, AOTD Consumer and Personal Care Products group leader Norashikin Ahmad discussed the business opportunities of soap-making, while Dr Lim Wen Huei, an MPOB senior research officer for more than 12 years, shared his ideas on the prospects of making palm oil-based candles.
The 65 participants at the workshop included representatives from non-governmental organisations such as Johor Women's League (Jewel), Breast Cancer Support Group (BCSG) and Senior Citizens Association, as well as Form 4 students from SMK Tun Fatimah and SMK Sultanah Engku Tun Aminah, and Jaro volunteers.
The workshop was an eye-opener for participants in the production of halal cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products made from palm oil. Palm oil is also useful for industrial applications such as additives in lubricants, coating materials and waxes.
"I'm more interested in candle-making," said Dorothy Teo from BCSG who quizzed Dr Lim and his colleague, Mohd Zambri Yusof, during the candle-making demonstration.
She said the workshop was beneficial for BCSG because Lee Lai Peng, who is in charge of handicrafts in BCSG, intends to make unique, creative candles for future fund-raising campaigns.
"The success of your products will depend on your creativity and sale strategies," said Dr Lim, who also suggested that participants conduct surveys to understand what consumers want so as to create unique designs that meet their tastes.
"Those who are keen to start a cottage industry can buy the intermediate product from MPOB," suggested Norashikin, who went on to explain that the pre-mixed product is a base for candle- and soap-makers to add colour and fragrance, before using their creativity to make products that are uniquely their own.
Some participants were so excited that they immediately began discussing ideas on what equipment was required and how to start a cottage industry in their garage or backyard.
The workshop ended on a high note with Datuk Jimmy Low Boon Hong presenting them with certificates of participation and goody bags from MPOB.