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Meet Phemo Manham, USHA Silai Hero From Arunachal Pradesh Who Has Become An Inspiration For Many

Meet Phemo Manham, USHA Silai Hero From Arunachal Pradesh Who Has Become An Inspiration For Many
New Delhi: 

The USHA Silai School program is supporting tribal women in some of the most marginalised areas of Arunachal Pradesh. The aim of this initiative is to help tribal women earn a better income and live a good life. It ensures that the specific requirements for women coming from tribal communities are highlighted and addressed. Despite the cultural differences and extremities, they are provided with equal opportunity in skill development and income generation prospects. Here is the story of Phemo Manham, a 25-year-old tribal woman from Niausa village of Longding district, Arunachal Pradesh, who trained with USHA, worked hard and became an inspiration for many other women and girls of her village.

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

Ms Manham, who started her USHA Silai School in October 2018 belongs to ‘Woncho' tribe who are predominantly employed in agriculture and inter-village trade for beads, clothes and indigenous products. Her parents were also engaged in farming and could earn only around Rs 25, 000 in a year. However, the eldest of the three siblings, Ms Manham wanted to carve her own niche and gain respect within her community. She had to quit her studies after school and joined Shomai Self Help Group when she was 19. At the age of 21, she was married to Noklem Manham. Her husband works at the district treasury office on a contractual basis and receives an income irregularly because it is a temporary job. The unsustainable nature of his job encouraged Ms Manham to look for other sources of income for herself.

At first, she started weaving and basket making, then she also worked as a daily wage labourer. After some struggle, she got to know about USHA Silai School Programme from a staff member of a local NGO ANMA Integrated Development Association (AIDA). She attended the seven-day intensive residential training conducted at AIDA's office. Upon completion of her training, her hard work and dedication were appreciated and noted by all community leaders. She began her Usha Silai School with all the requisites of opening a Silai School – a sewing machine, signage, certificate and the service manual and a go-getter attitude. Very soon, the village panchayat appreciated her work and in order to encourage and boost her enterprise, provided her with 10 sewing machines. The Panchayat wanted her to teach ‘sewing and stitching ‘to more women. 

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

While talking about her journey, Ms Manham said,

I have had an interest in sewing since childhood. We had sewing machines in our school, which were provided by the government. There we learned the basics of stitching, but there was no formal training with trainers. So, whenever we had free time from school, we would practice. But we never learnt it completely. After my marriage in 2015, I was a homemaker and used to work in the fields. Then I got to know that USHA was organising classical training sessions. I enrolled myself for that training, and once I completed it, I got a sewing machine from USHA. Now I train others with the help of that machine. I had not completely learnt sewing in school, but with the seven-day training by USHA, I learned how to cut the fabric, repair the machine and so on. I learnt all of this in their seven-day training, after which I got a machine. I started training other women and did some alteration work. I have trained 10 women in my village, Niausa, and around 20 women from Longding village.

Ms Manham earns an income of Rs. 5,000 every month through her Silai School. Now she is an inspiration for her students. Amo Manham, a learner said,

To have a Silai School in such a remote location has been a great help for us. We can stitch our own clothes, and also earn a bit by sewing for others. Earlier, we would have to travel very far to get any stitching done. We want to thank USHA for this, the training is at our doorstep.

According to Mary Rupa Tete, Vice President, USHA Social Services, approaching the tribal women was a very challenging task because one there is a lack of trust. She said,

There are challenges like cultural differences and language barriers. We could approach them because we partnered with an NGO who had been working with the tribal population for a long time and they enjoyed this trust with the tribal women. And also, I think the very fact that we were open and receptive to their culture. We did not try to change the basic ethos of the society and therefore we were also welcomed. Sewing is something that all of them really wanted to learn and we offered them that platform.

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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
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