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After Having Become Financially Independent, Ledakijuh Nongtdu From Meghalaya Is Empowering Other Women

After Having Become Financially Independent, Ledakijuh Nongtdu From Meghalaya Is Empowering Other Women

Known as the abode of clouds Meghalaya is a land of lofty hills. A picturesque drive on the serpentine roads from the state capital Shillong leads to the East Jaintia hills. Jaintia hills are the commercial zone of Meghalaya which is otherwise known for its tourism. In the Jaintia hills, narrow roads lined with heaps of coal bring you to Tluh. This village in Saipung block of the East Jaintia hills district is one of the nerve centers of Meghalaya's huge coal reserves. This is a story of how women entrepreneurship is being stitched together at Tluh, one among the 97 villages in the area where the main source of livelihood is farming and agriculture, with some villagers also working in the coal depot as labour.

Also Read: USHA Silai School Trainee, Metilda Mary Is Teaching New Skills To Tamil Nadu Women

29-year-old Ledakijuh Nongtdu is busy preparing breakfast along with her elder sister. The third child herself, Leda has three sisters. Her father is a carpenter, and her mother is a homemaker. After graduation Leda tried hard to get a government job for herself but could not. Leda didn't lose confidence, rather she turned to her childhood love for sewing and stitching, especially embroidery.

After discussing it with her family, she joined a sewing class in Shillong. Leda completed the course in June 2021 but could not start her unit as she had no sewing machine. That is when she heard about the initiative of the Swavalamban Silai School, and decided to do the training.

Once training was finished, Leda repurposed her mother's old tea stall into a brand new Silai school of her own, with the use of the machines given by USHA International. Since then there has been no looking back for Leda.

Also Read: USHA With NGOs In West Bengal Help Women Generate Income Through Traditional Stitching Art Forms

Talking to NDTV, Ledakijuh Nongtdu, Entrepreneur and USHA Silai School Teacher said,

After passing from the Silai school, they gave us one machine and materials which helped us open our own business. They gave us ideas on how to start, and that is how I resolved to stand on my own feet. I came home and told my parents that I want to start my Silai school and that is when they decided to open it in this space. I have been running this Silai school for a year now. I have nine students, the first batch hasn't passed yet. I have four employees and the feedback has been really good.

Soon the Silai school started to become popular. With the income from the school and support from family, Leda purchased another machine. This Swavalamban Silai School that Leda started is one of its kind in the area and was aided by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). USHA and SIDBI in partnership have opened 3,000 such Swavalamban Silai Schools across India, supporting women to become homepreneurs.

Also Read: USHA-Gram Utthan In Odisha Are Empowering Women To Open Their Training Centres

Leda's story is not only inspirational but filled with promise, not only for herself but also the several other women who learn and even earn at this Silai school.

Niwabalency Pyrtuh, Learner at USHA Silai School said,

After I finished my training, I got a sewing machine from USHA but I couldn't start my own business. I came here and Leda taught me more. I got more experience here. She taught and encouraged me to be a good person. She taught me that we should believe in ourselves and always be good to others. I feel proud of myself. USHA Silai School has helped many women. They have made many women like me financially independent.

The Silai School initiative focuses on developing a home-based micro-enterprise setup in the form of Silai School for women. In Leda's case, in a short span of time, more local tribal girls are coming to get trained and become self-reliant.

Sharing her journey of learning from Leda and the future vision, Profitness Pala, Learner, USHA Silai School said,

I first came to know about this school through social media. After graduation, I couldn't find a job but I wanted to do something instead of just sitting. So, I called Leda and joined the Silai school. After I finish my training, I will stitch something for my family and then I will start working for customers. Coming and joining here, seeing Leda's employees working very hard and earning, it motivated me to learn more and more. When I go home, I practice whatever she has taught me at the school. It makes me eager to learn and make new things every day.

Also Read: USHA-Sarvodaya Ashram Are Teaching Traditional Stitching Techniques To Uttar Pradesh Women

Although Meghalaya is a matrilineal society, women are still far from being self-reliant the social fabric in Meghalaya is very rare and matriarchy is a unique practice where the children take the identity or family title solely from the mother. For Leda's family her decision to make a living out of the Silai school was not an easy one.

Talking about how Silai school has changed Leda's life, her sister Aida Mary Nongtdu said,

She can provide for herself, she started her own business and gave jobs in our locality itself, to around four to five women. She has also given training to more than 10 girls, not only from our locality but from different places. It is good that she is giving knowledge to so many girls and can support herself financially.

Leda's tailoring unit is the only one in the village and she is well known as an entrepreneur who gets plenty of orders. In the future, Leda plans to establish a production hub and wants to skill the women of the area with sewing and embroidery. She feels her association with USHA International has been the real game changer. Leda said,

I have planned that I will expand my Silai school as much as I can. I'll try to help more women so they can stand on their feet.

Through Usha Silai schools many women have expanded their small home-based setup and earnings for themselves to now being able to fetch large job orders and in turn employ women under them. Learn to earn has been the key to their success ushered by USHA International. These women are not only getting trained but becoming providers to society.

Also Read: Manipur's Yarshang Shimray Is Leading The Way To Eco-Friendly Fashion By Recycling Old Clothes

Talking about the USHA Silai School programme, Mary Rupa Tete, Vice-President, USHA Social Services said,

USHA Silai School programme works with the central idea of promoting entrepreneurship among women, especially in the rural landscape. Entrepreneurship spurs economic growth in several ways one being the generation of employment for the rural people or local people. The Silai school women also. with their new found confidence and abilities, have been able to provide employment to other women and girls in the village itself.

Adding to this, Kishore Kalita, Deputy Manager at USHA Social Services said,

This is our first initiative of opening Silai schools in East Jaintia hills. We have opened these schools with the help of SIDBI and we call them Swavlambi Silai Schools. Although these Silai schools are micro-enterprises based on sewing, here women entrepreneurs or the Silai school teachers are playing the role of agents of change.

Today, Leda is an agent of change.

Also Read: USHA-MURA Collective Are Teaching Uttarakhand Women To Upcycle Discarded Clothes

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Do you want to be a part of the huge change that Usha Silai School is bringing about in the lives of millions of rural women? With just a simple click of a button, you can now contribute towards the opening of an Usha Silai School or support various other aspects of the school.

About the Initiative

About the Initiative

Kushalta Ke Kadam, an initiative by NDTV and USHA, aims at empowering women from rural India and encourages them to become entrepreneurs by taking up sewing and training others in their respective communities. Since 2011 Usha Silai Campaign has trained more than 3.95 lakh rural women within five years, with 17,000 Silai schools, spanning over 9272 Indian villages in India.

 

Kushalta Ke Kadam in Season 4 has returned with new goals and vision. The new season will witness the establishment of the new cluster in Kashmir, apart from the existing four clusters setup last year. The women from volatile Kashmir will work with well-known fashion designer Rohit Bal and get an unique opportunity to learn from him and make clothes for him. The work done by the Silai School women will be presented at Lakme Fashion week 2019.

 

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In Pics

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching
Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Rebari girls grow up learning traditional embroidery, which along with their new found sewing skills developed at Usha Silai Schools, is helping them earn a living.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School has empowered many rural women to support their family and send their children to school.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The Usha Silai School, established in a small nondescript village that goes by the name of Kottai, is helping empower people from varied communities.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The all-inclusive Usha Silai School Programme covers the entire nation from hamlets tucked between hills to villages cast by the sea.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Vegetables farmers from the Mizoram hills earn very little given the topography of the area. Usha Silai Schools have played an important part in this region by skilling women to financially contribute towards their households.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School learner Lucy has trained seven other women in her community, helping them to become financially independent.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Women like Kaviben from the nomadic Rebari community are finally laying down their roots as they begin to gain financial independence and thereby stability through Usha Silai School.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, located in the Gujarat's Bhuj village, is enabling rural women to earn as much as Rs. 2,500-4,000 each month.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, in association with a Gujarat based NGO called Kala Raksha, is trying to bring about a Silai revolution in Bhuj.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Besides training other women from their community, many Usha Silai School learners have become entrepreneurs in their own right.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

With sewing becoming easily accessible and lucrative, the silai schools are also helping revive traditional motifs and designs.

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