Whenever I visit our factory I’m completely energized by the hustle and bustle of the production floors. Sewing machines are humming, people are running up and down five flights of stairs that connect each part of the manufacturing, and the lively chatter of conversation of people working together fills the air.
This last visit was no different, except this time I met a new team member who had the energy and enthusiasm of 100 people! Her spirit was contagious and if you ask anyone at the factory, they’ll tell you that everyone adores her and her classes too.
Her name is Nana Woo.
Nana came to Sekem from South Korea as part of an internship program. From the moment she arrived at the farm, Nana fit in perfectly and everyone loved working with her so much that she decided to stay on and head the Eurhythmy program - her specialty.
I got the chance to sit down with Nana and talk about the Eurythmy program she’s implemented at the factory and learn more about how it’s helping the mental and physical wellbeing of our workers.
From Nana Woo as she talks Eurythmy & Community...
I teach in small groups that I alternate weekly so everyone is included in the lessons I’m teaching and is receiving the full benefits. Each session starts with a cleansing breath - this is done to improve physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. With practice, this type of breathing will improve the energy of the worker, as well as help clear their minds from any stress they may have experienced during the day.
Most of our employees had never even heard of a cleansing breath before and were amazed at how something so simple could make them feel so much better. I explained that this easy practice would help them work with greater clarity and to the best of their ability.
I also give them homework! The workers are to practice cleansing breaths throughout the day, and with each class I ask them how its improved their physical and emotional health and if their energy levels have improved.
My teaching is two dimensional, with the first aspect being “Human Development” and the second being “Physical Development.”
With Human Development, it is important to make sure each person feels valued and needed as they perform their daily tasks in the factory. We do this through conveying that each person is a human being, and should be treated as such regardless of their position.
Human Development includes an emphasis on:
- Relationships - how to communicate clearly and respectfully with each other.
- Team Building - recognizing that everyone is part of the equation; working together in unison, listening to each other, and helping come up with attainable solutions if problems arise. This also involves completing exercises to promote self-worth and teamwork.
Physical Development is equally important - focusing on what the body needs in order to stay healthy and in shape. We know that sitting for prolonged periods of time, whether at a sewing machine or entering data into a computer, causes our necks and backs to ache.
It’s extremely important that everyone gets up and moves in some form throughout the work day and it’s my responsibility to schedule and apply some kind of fun movement for everyone at the factory to do at the same time.
This could mean movement to music, which helps people release their bad energy to the sounds. Or it could also mean practicing an upper body exercise, stretching the shoulders, neck and back. Every floor of the factory has space for impromptu exercise.
We might even take a quick walk outside where we can enjoy the open air and sunlight while we move.
Part of the program I implement also deals with the art of “Role Playing” so everyone understands how the factory utilizes their money and profit.
“Giving and Receiving” is a basic exercise in discovering what each person’s role is at the factory, and how their work not only benefits themselves, but how it benefits the community they live in. I explain how money is distributed, starting with the farmers who grow the organic cotton - then the workers who get paid for making the products, and in return the products are sold to a customer like Under the Nile.
The money that Under the Nile pays the factory goes towards many things - starting with paying the employees, the electricity, and the basic needs of the factory. The remaining profit is used to support the community in programs like subsidizing organic fruits and vegetables for low income families and scholarship programs for low income families so that their children can attend the farm’s K-12 school. When everyone sees that the profits are not used to fill the pockets of the CEO and understands how it benefits them and the community, they feel valued-- which in return makes them better workers.
We promote trust, love of the work they do, and pride in the products they make.
The factory is an open book where anyone can see how much and what the profits are being used for. Once they understand the value of what they do, the employees often consider themselves an owner of the company and feel responsible for performing the best work possible.
A Final Thought
Under the Nile is proud of the ethical sourcing of our products, and we appreciate every person that is involved in our supply chain. The fact that workers are treated fairly and that they and their families are taken care of means that every product we sell comes from love. In valuing everyone who works for us, we are able to produce high-quality organic baby products with a beautiful story.