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USHA Partners With Educational Institutions To Help Women Fulfil Their Dreams Through Skill Development

USHA Partners With Educational Institutions To Help Women Fulfil Their Dreams Through Skill Development
New Delhi: 

Becoming a self-reliant, financially independent woman was the biggest dream of 23-year-old Danishta Mushtaq, a resident of Ganderbal in Kashmir valley. A cheerful, fearless and courageous woman, Danishta never stopped believing in her dreams despite facing hardships. Even though her family struggles for survival today, Danishta, the eldest of four children, is confident that she will be able to provide a better life to her family in future. While talking to NDTV, she said,

I completed my degree in physical education last year. Now I am doing a masters from the same university. Apart from studies, I've taken up sewing as a hobby along with knitting. I also do all the household chores, like cooking and cleaning. I take care of the farm and do other outdoor work like kitchen gardening.  I have been actively involved in sports since class 8. I like playing cricket and badminton. I've played three cricket tournaments at the national level.

Also Read: 36-Year-Old Preeti Triumphed Over Financial Battles And Became An Inspiration To Many, Thanks To USHA Silai School

Danishta's father is a shopkeeper and mother is working a helper at an Anganwadi Centre. The monthly family income was not adequate enough to permit Danishta to pursue her dreams. She always wanted to improve her knowledge of sewing and stitching and when she heard about the USHA Silai School program, she grabbed the opportunity to improve her skills further.

USHA had started a partnership with Kashmir University, where Danishta is a student, to set up a Silai School to help its students and women from the valley learn the techniques of stitching and become entrepreneurs.

According to Dr Aadhil Bashir, Head Of Department, Centre For Social Work, Kashmir University, the university staff and USHA identified potential Silai School students in the area. He said,

We went to the areas where we found girls with potential, were educated or had challenges completing their education. We picked from both the categories. If you look at Danishta, she has attained some education but she didn't have advanced training or understanding. She aspired to become a fashion designer but she didn't know the right path to it. We brought in expert trainees who gave these girls expert training and drafting. We taught them about modern trends and technologies, in fashion and otherwise. They practically adopted the methods. Today they have more interest in the field. It will help them earn an income and will be able to support their education. It has increased her interest in the hobby and she is inching closer to achieving their dream of becoming a fashion designer.

Also Read: USHA Partners With Small Industries Development Bank Of India To Ensure Support To The Silai Entrepreneurs

Danishta got a chance to train at USHA Silai School in Kashmir University in 2018. It was the year USHA Silai School program in Kashmir collaborated with Rohit Bal and the women of the program, from the previous batch, went to Mumbai for Lakme Fashion Week. That collaboration revived the dying hopes and dreams of many women and also stirred up Danishta's interest. She said,

It was a moment of pride that women from Kashmir can also work outside the state. They are skilled, but they need to develop that well. If the government helps, it will help women and the youth enhance their skills. The girls in Kashmir can reach greater heights if the government provides support. When the first batch went to Mumbai, I saw their show on the internet. It made me happy and inspired me.

While sharing about her journey in stitching, Danishta said,

I started sewing in 2012, after completing class 12. I started as an amateur, but later told my mother that I want to learn sewing. Whenever I used to go out or to college or some marketplace, I used to see girls and women wearing fancy clothes which were far beyond my reach. So, I decided that I would try to make similar clothing for myself. My physical education teacher from school told me that they received a call from USHA regarding a 10 day training programme. She told me that it is free of cost and that we will also get a machine. I thought it was a great opportunity and began the course here in Kashmir University.

The training of the USHA Silai School program helped Danishta and her family during the lockdown in Kashmir. Initially she was earning approximately Rs. 1,000 per month and now her income is Rs. 3,000- 5,000 per month. She has also started teaching others and is also charging a small fee from them. During the lockdown, she received an order of 400 masks from the Social Work department of University Of Kashmir. This order made her happy because it was the source for contributing towards the community in these times of deadly pandemic. She was given Rs. 6 for each mask which helped her earn Rs. 2,400.

Also Read: USHA Silai School's Skill Training Has Empowered The Vulnerable Including Women Fight The Economic Crisis During COVID-19 Lockdown

I am happy that USHA has trained my daughter. The training has helped our family. Once she finished, she trained her sisters as well, which has been very helpful. Her father's business had to shut due to the lockdown. My daughters have been running the house since the lockdown, and have been taking care of our daily needs since then, said Zamroda Jan, Danishta's Mother

As the University of Kashmir continues helping its students progress, it has opened its door to other girls and women from the valley as well. Talat Ahmed, VC, University Of Kashmir said,

There are a lot of changes that have come since we collaborated with USHA. The message has gone very well in the society. From that time onwards, now we have about 20 USHA silai centres in Srinagar as well as in neighbouring district of Ganderbal. That came after this last event that happened in Mumbai in which Mr Rohit Bal was also involved. This is definitely going to be very useful initiative.

39-year-old Jameela, from Arhoma, part of the Ganderbal district in Kashmir, never got a chance to go to school. She lost both of her parents while she was a child and was married off at a very young age. Life is not easy for Jameela, who is now a mother of three daughters and three sons. She has very supportive husband who works as a daily wage labourer who understands her wish to become self-reliant. She said,

We were very poor and I did not have any skills. I had a child when I was still very young and I didn't know what to do for myself or with my life. Then my husband helped me fill the forms for training. I instantly developed an interest in stitching. I felt like I was finally doing something with my life. I soon started earning a living. I am very grateful to USHA. Now I can earn for my children's education and better future.

Also Read: The Women From USHA Silai School Kashmir Make It To The Lakme Fashion Week 2019

Jameela received the training of 10 days on sewing and stitching and also received USHA Black Sewing Machine, certificate, Signage board, syllabus book and service manual. After becoming the Silai School teacher she has earned the respect both in her family and village. Currently, she is teaching about three learners and is earning about Rs. 1,500- Rs. 2,000 per month.

While Danishta and Jameela have not yet achieved all they want, but they believe that they are on the right path. Speaking about the success of the two women, Mr Ahmed said,

They have become entrepreneurs and are very smart people. They know what will be the market requirement and they started with the masks as well, and with various designs. Definitely, similar things will be coming up as they have a very rich cultural background as you know Kashmir is famous for its Pashmina shawl and other types of shawls and stoles, carpets and paper mache. This needs to be taken to the bigger markets of the world, not just in Kashmir but in different parts of the country.

On the lines of its work in Kashmir, USHA Silai School also collaborated with the Department of Social Work in Punjab University. The agenda was to work for the welfare of women in Punjab. The collaboration started in 2015 and since then there has been no looking back. More than 100 women have received training under this programme so far, and most of them are migrants. Ruby Devi is one of them.

Ruby, who is from Bihar, came to Delhi with her husband in 1999 but after struggling for two years, the couple moved to Chandigarh with their daughter, in search if livelihood. Rubi could not continue her education after Class 9 due to financial issues her family was facing. So it was difficult for her to find work other than daily wage work. While they continued to struggling for a living, Ruby contracted some unknown illness in 2005 which she continued to suffer from till 2008. She was bed-ridden for three years and could not receive proper treatment due to low income. Gradually, she recovered and decided to make her life better.

Ruby started taking tuition classes for students of Class 4 and 5. She started some stitching work also on the side. She joined many classes for sewing and stitching and somehow groomed herself so that she can deliver quality work to their customers. In 2015, Ruby got to know about USHA Silai School programme running in the Centre for Social Work, Panjab University. She enrolled herself in the Silai School. During the training she learnt stitching as well as machine repairing skills along with various techniques of sewing.

Also Read: USHA Silai School Creates New Opportunities For Women In Partnership With Autonomous Government Bodies Across States

According to Dr Monica Singh, Head of Department, Centre for Social Work, Punjab University, Ruby has been with their Silai school  since the first batch was trained. She said,

Ruby's life has really changed after she did her training with USHA. She feels empowered. Every time we went to meet her, there was a change in her personality. There was a total change, she was confident and every time we met her, her confidence increased. She told us, her family income has increased. She admitted her daughter in a nice English medium school and she was happy that her life has changed. She attributed her success to USHA. She told us that getting in touch with USHA has been a blessing.

Ruby said that she was always a student at any training centre when she was learning sewing and stitching but this was the Usha Silai School training when she was honored as a teacher after completion of training. The dream come true and Ruby got the identity of a teacher this has given her confidence. Now the Ruby Didi has turned into Ruby Madam, she shared. So far, Ruby has trained more than 100 students. She earns about Rs. 20,000 per month. As the financial condition improved she got her daughter enrolled in a good school and purchased items like a washing machine for home.

The USHA Silai school program has collaborated with universities across India to implement its training modules. The programme has also caught the attention of organisations and institutions from across the world, many of which now want to associate with the USHA Silai Schools. Nicholas Booker, Co-founder, IndoGenius, which assists universities, businesses, NGOs and government agencies from around the world to interact with India, said,

It is extraordinary to think that over 5 lakh women have now benefitted from the USHA Silai School. The inisitave has reasched every far flung corner of India and that hasn't happened in big infrastructure like college classroom, training has happened in women's homes on in a small room or in a courtyard or outside setting. We have taken several of our groups; fashion, bussiness, development, economical streams from Australia from UK from America to come to visit USHA corporate office in Gurugram and also to visit a number of Silai Schools in urban and rural settings.

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Adopt a Silai School

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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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