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USHA Silai Hero, Assam's Gouri Das Conducted Classes Even During The Covid Pandemic

USHA Silai Hero, Assam's Gouri Das Conducted Classes Even During The Covid Pandemic
New Delhi: 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed led to the loss of jobs and financial crisis in many homes. However, as the streets became silent, in many parts of India sewing machines continued to run. The hands remained busy putting the thread through the needle, courtesy of the USHA Silai School that helped Silai School women, their families and students make ends meet even during the pandemic. 38-year-old Gouri Das from Gumrah village in Barak valley, one of the remotest regions of Assam is one such woman.

Also Read: USHA Silai School Initiative Empowered UP's Gudiya Devi To Become A Change Maker

A mother of three children, and an USHA Silai School trainer, Ms Das also has a small garment shop. People in her village say that she is a strong, motivated woman. She runs an USHA Silai School in her house. While talking about her journey with USHA Silai School, Ms Das said,

I found out that USHA would be conducting free training in stitching and sewing at Deshbandhu club. The training lasted a week, after which I was given a sewing machine. That's how I started the centre in my house. I was able to expand, thanks to the money earned from stitching clothes, and I bought two to three advanced machines. My students have now learnt, and 10 of them have started satellite silai school. I have trained at least 100 students, and all of them are now earning.

Ms Das had encouraged other girls and women to learn a few tips of sewing in her school at nominal fees. Till date, she has taught more than 100 women and girls the basic sewing course. Ms Das also earned more than Rs. 5.00 lakh along with her 20 learners by supplying masks to Bandhan Bank, Gram Panchayat, and Assam Gramin Vikash Bank during the pandemic period last year.

When the lockdown was announced, we were worried about the future of the Silai School, and about how we would earn a living. We suffered financially. The markets were closed, so my husband was left with no work. At that time, we thought since we have machines, why don't we make masks, because in rural areas there was a shortage of masks. So, I bought cloth on credit and made masks, and my husband took them to a medical store to sell. We got a good response. This showed us a way to earn a living, even during the lockdown. I did not have money to buy a new LPG cylinder for the house. I eventually bought it from the money I earned making masks. When I saw how mask making could solve my problem, I decided to concentrate on it. I got the first big order, for 1,000 masks, from the block office. The local branch of Bandhan Bank gave us an order for 20,000 masks. Thanks to this, we also ensured livelihoods for 15-20 students of the centre, who were making masks from home. We were all working from home. Then the district administration gave us an order for 5,000-6,000 masks, Ms Das said.

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

For Ms Das's students to have worked the way they did during the pandemic shows the effectiveness of the Silai School model, even during trying times. Deepika Rani Das, a student of Ms Das said,

This Silai School has changed our lives. Earlier I was dependent on my father, asking him for money for my personal needs. Now I earn for myself. My friend told me that Gouri ma'am has got an order to make masks, and asked if I would be interested in helping her. I used to walk 4 km to this Silai School, to collect cloth to make masks. Every day we used to work from 5am till 9pm, to make at least 500 masks per day.

According to Sumit Biswas, Ms Das's Neighbour, during the COVID-19 lockdown, when there was no way of earning money, the women did a great job by making masks. They helped society and also earned a living for themselves, he said.

Ms Das said that Silai School is helping her fulfil the dreams and ambitions of her family. Her eldest daughter has been able to pursue her passion, dance, thanks to her mother's earnings. She wants to become a professional classical dancer. Her daughter Rajshri Das said,

To continue my passion for dance, we need money to buy costumes and cosmetics, to attend a better dance school, and to even go for performances. All these expenses are being met with my mother's income, and I'm living her dream. I have a YouTube channel with 94 subscribers.

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