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Gomi Devi: Lifting Up The Veil To Pick Up The Reins Of Her Life

Gomi Devi: Lifting Up The Veil To Pick Up The Reins Of Her Life
Barmer, Rajasthan: At the tender of age of 15 when most teenagers are brimming with hope, optimism and looking forward to embrace life, Gomi found herself staring at a future that was being imposed on her. Living in a remote village in Barmer district of Rajasthan, Gomi never got to explore life or have the luxury of choice. She was married off and within 12 months into her marriage, Gomi had her first child.

"My husband was addicted to opium. He was always under its influence" said Gomi. "He didn't have a job and I didn't know how to go on living with an addict who had no livelihood."

So at the age of 26, Gomi was a mother of a child and wife of an opium addict. Belonging to the Suthar community which consists of people who engage in animal husbandry, agriculture and carpentry work, she, like most in the village came under the Below Poverty Level category. She knew in order to sustain herself and become the person putting food on the table, she had to find work. It was around this time that an opportunity knocked at her doorstep.

When I was visiting my mother's home, I was approached by a man from a self-help group. He told me about the Usha Silai School and took me there, said Gomi who was interested in joining the school by then.

"I thought that since I already knew sewing taking this training would help me hone the skill. It would also help me become financially independent," said Gomi who eventually went on to receive the 7-day training of sewing and embroidery.

Usha International's initiative of Silai School is a programme that enables underprivileged women to find three earning avenues by teaching them how to repair sewing machines, tailor clothes and train other women to do the same.

According to Mohan Lal, the Programme Coordinator at Usha Silai School, many of the women who attend the residential training have lived their lives within the fortification of their houses and behind their longs veils. Uneducated, these women lack the confidence of stepping out of their house without their male counterparts making it harder to convince them to join the school.

Many of the women coming (to the Silai school) have complicated lives. We try to make it easier for them to adjust to the school's surroundings. As the training is intense, we sit with the women in the evenings and sing songs.

On her own initiative, Gomi, underwent the training and got certified to start her own school.

"I learnt a lot from the school and then started helping young girls who didn't know stitching," she said.

I have started a school in my house and the students pay me Rs 50 for a month.

Charging a very reasonable fee, Gomi has begun teaching plenty of young girls and women and is earning approximately Rs. 7000 a month. She said,

It's easier (for students) to receive training within the village. They can stitch clothes at home and earn from selling them. As opposed to when they work as daily-wage laborers, they have to travel far and work in the sun all day.

According to her, stitching became the means to fulfill her family's demands, paying her children's tuition fee, and all the time driving home the point within her social circle that the women too can hold jobs. Gomi has used her new source of income to also help her husband fight off his addiction.

Since then, Gomi has also become a member of another self-help group that travels to nearby villages performing street plays to raise awareness about vaccination for children. Being an active member, she has also convinced 10 other women to join them.

"These women have lived their lives covered in veils and have never stepped out of their villages," she said. "They were reluctant at first but I convinced them and took them to Bikarner with me. Now we perform street plays together."

Gomi has become an icon of change in aland where women have led lived hiding their face, lived silently and held no authority. Inspired by her state's Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Gomi is constantly trying to encourage as many women as possible to step outside their boundaries and explore the possibility of a better life.

Also Read: In The Land Of Pristine Forest - Kanha, Women Find An Alternative Source Of Livelihood Through Silai Schools
 

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Adopt a Silai School

Adopt a Silai School

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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