The Lydia Vocational Training Center, also known as “Lydia House,” is run by IN Nepal Executive Director Esther Thapa. The program accepts 22 women at a time, of ages ranging from 15 to 25. Most come from remote mountain communities of deeply entrenched poverty that offer few opportunities for women.

Lydia students are trained to become professional seamstresses. By graduation, each has learned how to make 35 saleable articles of clothing, from school uniforms to wedding veils to traditional kurtas. Students also receive biblical and theological training, take cooking and music classes, and gain awareness of issues related to domestic violence HIV/AIDS.

The Lydia women arrive full of uncertainty and with few belongings. During her visit in February of 2015, Sharon Oxley had the opportunity to meet the newest arrivals. She maintains she would be hard-pressed to find places in the world more illustrative of the “ends of the earth” than the far-flung, mountainous villages represented by the Lydia women.

“Some of the women didn’t have enough clothes,” says Sharon. “Some didn’t have jackets. It’s cold in

Lydia students eager to start class
Lydia students eager to start class

Kathmandu in February. You need a jacket.”

After five months, the Lydia graduates are ready to return to their village with the skills to be effective wives and mothers, businesswomen, church leaders, and agents of change within their communities.

“What I love about Lydia House,” says Sharon, “is that it is a reproducible program that gives women confidence, biblical training, and the tools to be self-sustaining so that they can return to their villages to confront the prevailing cycles of abuse and poverty.”

Read more about students at Lydia House.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Lydia Vocational Training Program.