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Santosh From Rajasthan Is On A Mission To Financially Empower The Women In Her Village

Santosh From Rajasthan Is On A Mission To Financially Empower The Women In Her Village
Mumbai: In parts of India, especially its rural belt, the identity of a woman is limited to motherhood and whether or not she can bear children. It is a make belief notion that is hard to uproot, since being a mother is seen to be the sole purpose of a woman, an honour that is bestowed on her by nature and completes her. This narrow interpretation of womanhood also means that when a woman fails to bear children she is looked down open, humiliated and in some cases even ostracised by the community.

Something 34-year-old Santosh Kumawat's of Kaladera village, Jaipur district, had to suffer first hand. Santosh and her family were isolated by the community members as she was unable to bear children post her marriage.

Life became difficult to sustain for Santosh and her husband, Chiranji Lal, a daily wage labourer, as there was no regular source of livelihood and there were days when the family had to skip meals. It was in 2013, when Santosh came across USHA Silai School programme and joined the Silai school to learn sewing. Little did she know that her sewing skills would one day not just pull her out of the rut of humiliation and earn her the honour of being on the stage of country's prestigious fashion show,
Lakme Fashion Week 2018 in Mumbai.

Our lives were in shambles. It was extremely difficult for us to find jobs that would sustain for long periods. We were also unable to repay the loans we had taken. There was no alternative but to continue working hard, sometimes in someone else's fields and sometimes as a domestic help. Fortunately, the Silai school came to my rescue, recalls Santosh.

After undergoing the seven day training programme, Santosh learnt the basics of stitching and soon started imparting her knowledge by conducting classes of her own in her village.

Learning sewing skills helped me get back in the community and as people came to know about the programme. They showed interest and hence I opened my own school to pass on the knowledge and skills. However, my fundamental aim is to open the Silai school was to not let any other women from my village undergo the hardships I have been through, says Santosh.

Five years ago she began by training 4-5 women, now over 100 women have been trained by her. Initially she charged Rs 200 per student which has now increased to Rs 1,000. 

With financial stability comes peace of mind. Santosh has paid off all the debts, and no longer has to rely on others to meet her family's needs - be it her mother-in-law's medicines or a piece of land to open her own school.

Today, a day in Santosh's life is packed from morning to night where home and work find equal importance. Wake up early in the morning to finish household chores, complete her stitching orders by afternoon and take sewing classes in the evening. Working as a resource training person, sometimes she also visits neighbouring villages to impart training and encourage other women to join the Silai movement.

For her talent and hardwork she got an opportunity to work on the production of a clothing line for a fashion label which was launched at Lakme Fashion Week 2018.

Summing up her Silai journey, Santosh says,

When I had first joined the school, my stitching patterns were irregular and raw. And now I can make clothes with different designs. From kurtas, suits, salwars to T-shirts, I can confidently stitch clothes. My next goal is to train atleat 5-6 women who can stitch high level designer clothes.

Also Read: 35-Year-Old Sunita Triumphed Over Financial Battles And Perfected The Art Of Sewing Clothes

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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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