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

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

For 10 years the USHA Silai School programme has been teaching women across India how to be self-reliant and independent. With the livelihood skills taught by the programme, more than 8 lakh women, from almost 16,000 villages across the country, have learnt how to fight prejudices, how to run businesses, how to earn & look after their own money, how to take care of their families' needs, how to be productive & participatory, and how to realise their own potential. Silai school women are now emerging as change catalysts of their communities, willing to make a difference and act against prevailing social issues. Here is the story of one such change makers - Gudiya Devi, a member of Gond tribe of Munga Dih village of Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh (UP) – who became the Head of her Gram (village) Panchayat and is now influencing village development through her office.

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

A popular figure in her community, Ms Devi, who is one of the Swavalmban Silai School Teacher, started a Silai school in her village on October 20, 2020. In 2021, Ms Devi became the Pradhan (Head) of her village Panchayat by defeating her opponent by 45 votes in the panchayat election. She was selected as one of the few gram pradhans with whom Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Aditya Nath interacted through a virtual meeting in May 2021. In the meeting, Ms Devi shared her plan for the social and economic development of her village.

The new role and responsibility of Gram Pradhan taken by Gudia Devi, have earned respect from her family and between Silai School teachers. But her journey was not smooth and was full of challenges. As a child, Ms Devi and her family faced economic challenges as her parents were very poor who worked as labourers on other people's farms. She was married off to a small farmer Hari at a young age. Both Hari and Ms Devi worked hard on the small land they had and from time to time, during the off-season, Hari used to go to cities to work as labour. Ms Devi soon found out that her husband was cheating on her with another woman. Ms Devi then became a victim of abuse and domestic violence. As the incidences of violence against her increased, she left her in-laws' house and returned to her parents' house.

My father did not have the money so he said he cannot educate me, but I wanted to study. A teacher from a nearby school suggested that my father admit me and pay the fees later. I studied for 3 years from 6 to 8, but we didn't have school nearby and no money to travel by bus, also there was no bus service available. After passing High School my father told me he had no money to educate me further. After studying I did not have any work, so I learned stitching in a private class & started stitching clothes for people around my village. That's when we were called to Banwasi Sewa Ashram by USHA, said, Ms Devi while talking about her journey.

Through an NGO, Banwashi Sewa Ashram, Ms Devi got to know that USHA with the support of SIDBI Bank established Swavalamban Silai Schools in Sonbhadhra district. She participated in a nine-day residential training at the school established in her village in October 2020 where she learnt about fashion, sewing machine installation, repair and maintenance and also got 2 days of Life Skill training. Along with the training lessons, she also received one Sewing Machine, one signage board, one syllabus book, one service manual, and a teacher's certificate. This was a step towards a new beginning for her. She opened her own Silai school and started training other women.

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

According to Shubha Prem, Secretary, Banwasi Sewa Ashram, Sonbhadra, the Silai School program that they started with USHA International does not end only at training and providing machines to girls and women. She said,

Along with making them self-sufficient, we have created an environment in the village that shows this is not just any program by some company but platform for girls of the village.

Ms Devi, who now owns two sewing machines, is currently teaching seven learners. She charges Rs. 200 per month as the fee from each learner and Rs.50 as an admission fee. She is now earning over Rs.5,000 per month from her school and her stitching work.

Ms Devi's journey from empowering herself to empowering others is an inspiring example of how skill training can help women in rural areas. For one of her learners, Salma, Ms Devi's Silai school played a very important role as she is now able to contribute to her family's better health, education and earnings.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Devi conducted awareness programs for her community along with stitching masks and distributing the essentials to the needy. Because of the encouragement and training received at the USHA Silai School, Ms Devi now has her own identity as gram pradhan, trainer, motivator, and counsellor. As Gram Panchayat head, Ms Devi has assured the people of her area that she will fight till the end to bring facilities for higher education, and facilities for water and health to the village. Appreciating the efforts of Ms Devi and many other women like her, Rupa, Vice President, USHA Social Services said,

USHA started the silai school program way back in 2011 so it has been more than a decade of work that has gone into the field. These women actuallzy feel more strengthened now because of the empowerment process. They are also able to voice their opinion against a lot of social issues, social evils.

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

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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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