“This job gave new meaning to my life”

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Anita Hmelnicka is a pensioner from Zalenieki parish, Jelgava, Latvia. A traffic accident changed her life a few decades back and finding work became a challenge for years. Now Anita tells us how an opportunity opened for her and how sewing gave new meaning to her life.

Anita Hmelnicka
Anita Hmelnicka learned to sew and enjoys it a lot. Photo: Anita Hmelnicka

After the injuries in traffic accident in 1988, I am a disabled person. To work after the accident was quite difficult. At the end of 2015 I moved to Zaļenieki parish and started looking for a job. I found one in the Zaļenieki Activity Center, participating in a project for people with disabilities from December 2019 to June 2021.

Under the leadership of Rasma Kutkovska, the Head of the Center, I learned the skills of sewing. I started with simple things – shopping bags, which were taken to Lithuania within the project and were appreciated there. Then came the children’s soft toys and gift bags. Since Rasma is a qualified tailor by profession and a teacher of sewers and stylists, we had an order from Jelgava City Council – gifts for newborns: 200 sleeping mice in 2019 and bulls in 2020. These kept us and our sewing machines busy.

Now the project is long over, but my cooperation with Rasma continues. Since she is also a self-employed person, who often travels to various fairs, I give away my creations to her. I retired in December, so now I have a lot of free time. Currently, I make wreaths from ribbons for the Midsummer Festival.

Sewing is something I always wanted to learn. Life gave me this opportunity and I was lucky to find a great counselor. Over time, I also bought a sewing machine myself so that I could sew at home and earn something in this way.  I can sew a piece of clothing for myself, and I can even treat my eight grandchildren by making something beautiful for them.

Because of my age I can’t start similar projects anymore, which is a pity. But if there were an opportunity, I would definitely participate. But I continue to sew different sought-after things for fairs and treat myself a bit with what I earn there. For instance, I went on an trip to Lithuania, and from time to time I take my grandchildren to a café.

More information

The New skills project was delivered in partnership between Anykščiai art incubator -art studio, Panevėžys Business Advisory Centre and Jelgava Local Municipality.

The project helped persons with disabilities to integrate into the labour market by providing training of new professional skills. The project targeted 44 thousand people with physical, cognitive, sensory or emotional disabilities in the cross border area of Zemgale and Panevezys-Utena districts in Latvia and Lithuania.