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Here Is How Chandam Sunita From Manipur Has Used Traditional Art To Generate Income

Here Is How Chandam Sunita From Manipur Has Used Traditional Art To Generate Income
New Delhi: 

Manipur is a state that has the highest number of handicraft units, as well as the highest number of craft persons - skilled and semi-skilled artisans - in the entire north-eastern region. Manipur also ranks among the top five in terms of the number of looms in the country. It also has one of India's largest markets run by women called the Ema Bazaar. This market primarily sells handloom and handicraft products such as earthen pots, knives, shawls and puppets; as well as all kinds of dried fish and vegetables. But with time and modernization, Manipur, which is also known as the jewel of India is losing the sheen of its rich art and craft tradition. The USHA Silai School program, with the help of a local NGO called People's Development Society (PDS), has taken charge to turn things around in Manipur.

Also Read: USHA Silai School Ensured Sustenance To Bihar's Kalawati Devi Even During Covid

According to Thokchom Biramangol Singh, Chief Executive Officer, People's Development Society, the NGO is working in the field of empowering women in terms of training them in income generation skills, capacity building, and financial literacy. He said,

In our Manipur, so many traditional clothes, traditional dress, traditional stitching work is done. After USHA came, the production and their work have also increased manifolds.

While sharing about her experience, Chandam Sunita Devi, artisan and Silai Hero, who started her Silai School in 2016 said,

Earlier we used to keep stock, but nowadays the design and needs of the customers change frequently, so we don't keep stocks anymore. Also, because people can see many new designs and styles on social media sites like Facebook, we make products as per our customers' needs. Everything from the colours to the material, and the type of lace, are according to their wishes. We purchase new design materials, like lace, beads and so on, as soon as they come to the market. We create our designs, by discussing it with each other. Even though we have not done any designing courses, my senior students always try to create their own unique designs. Some of my students are married, and some are not. Yet, they are able to contribute to their family's income, or maintain themselves financially, because they can earn more than Rs. 15,000 per month. Making just one mosquito net get them an income of Rs. 1,000, or more. And they can sew it, quite easily, in 3-4 days. I too am satisfied with my income. Earlier, I was not this economically independent. But now things are different.

Also Read: USHA Silai Mobile App Enhancing Skills, Augmenting Income Of The Silai Women

Chandam Sunita Devi and her students make the bed covers and mosquito nets that are specially quilted for newly married couples and users who have a preference for this traditional style. And so, the demand for her products rises during October- November, which is the peak period for weddings in Manipur. To meet that rising demand, she is now building a bigger space. She said,

We use an Aerie machine for the designing and embroidery of a fancy bed sheet. I have an Aerie machine, which is in the backyard. I am going to make this place my work shed, and I'm going to build it properly. After that, I put up the signboard, and I will provide my services of sewing and stitching, to many people. For now, we mostly work in our own homes. We design and stitch a fancy bed sheet according to the customers' wishes. If a customer wants a faded colour design, we make it exactly like that.

The USHA Silai School program has shown Chandam Sunita Devi how to get off to a simple start, and sustain her business so that she can scale up over the years. Now, she is able to manage her household chores, and also her micro-unit of business, at the same time.

By the grace of God, or the love of our customers, I have got many orders for marriage beddings. And it costs Rs. 30,000. So, each of my students can earn a minimum of Rs. 5,000, and a maximum of Rs. 15,000, according to their work. Most of my students earn at least Rs. 15,000 per month. I earn Rs. 60,000, or more, every month, because just 3 orders of the marriage bedding set will easily earn us Rs. 1 lakh. Most of the time we supply more than 3 orders of marriage bedding sets in a month. Other than this, we get many orders of lower-priced bedding sets, which cost Rs. 15,000. So, I can easily earn Rs. 60,000 to Rs. 70,000 per month, said Chandam Sunita Devi.

In her community, she is recognized as the driving force behind all the sewing or craft-based works that women and girls are involved in. The girls are learning important lessons in self-confidence, that will help them lead self-reliant lives so that together they can continue to save Manipur's identity as the jewel of India.

Also Read: Kushalta Ke Kadam: Meet Kusum Devi, Master Of Sujani, An Ancient Form Of Embroidery From Bihar

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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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