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USHA Silai School Stitches The Green Future While Giving A New Meaning To The Life Of Many

USHA Silai School Stitches The Green Future While Giving A New Meaning To The Life Of Many
Delhi: 

Eight years ago, USHA Silai School began with the aim of empowering rural women to become entrepreneurs and give sewing lessons in their respective communities. But over the years, the Silai School initiative has evolved and today it is not only limited to giving sewing lessons and a silai machine to women to open their own silai school, but focusses on uplifting both men and women through various means. To achieve their goal, USHA trained women of Meghalaya to make cloth bags.

Also Read: USHA's Mechanical Training Helps Bridge The Gender Divide For Women Entrepreneurs

Meghalaya, a northeastern state, popularly known as the abode of clouds, is covered with dense forest. According to a report published by the Forest Survey of India, 70 per cent of the state is forested, however with the passage of time and our heavy dependency on plastic, the dense forest was losing its charm. To overcome the issue, in 2016, the state pollution control board imposed a ban on the use of plastic carry bags with a thickness of less than 50 microns.

Someone has rightly said, ‘When one door closes, another window opens'. The same applies to Meghalaya as when the state government banned the use of plastic bags, there was a need for an alternative. Use of compostable bags was not a feasible option because it requires prior license and permission which is a complicated process. In a bid to provide a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bags and simultaneously a source of income to disadvantaged women, the Meghalaya State Rural Livelihoods Society partnered with USHA.

Also Read: Several Public And Private Firms Show Their Support To Take The USHA Silai School Initiative Forward

As part of the partnership, USHA was given the job of giving sewing lessons to women and train them to stitch cloth and jute bags. For the same, two production centres were established in the West Garo Hills and Khasi Hills and 50 women from existing Self Help Groups (SHGs) across the state were selected and trained by USHA.

As part of the training, women were not only taught to stitch simple carry bags of different sizes and weight capacity, but also stylish and fashionable bags.

Firstly, the idea really was to ensure that women are also involved in different kinds of economic activity. We are a matrilineal society so we do ensure that women also get the kind of respect and opportunity that should be there in every society. Secondly, we felt that a program like Silai School will help us link to the different aspects of the environment with the fact that we will be able to produce sustainable products like cloth bags, says Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya.

Also, as the chief minister says, Meghalaya had a tradition of using cloth bags but plastic took over, the initiative in a way also aimed at bringing back the long lost tradition.

The initiative truly brought some change in the life of rural women, as a beneficiary shares the positive change brought in her life through a partnership between USHA and the state government and says,

We are a family of five and my husband lives in Guwahati for work. Whatever little I would earn through odd jobs or manage to save, I would use it for my children's school fee. But now after learning to stitch, I earn Rs. 15,000 which is sufficient for me to run my house.

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

After giving a new meaning to the life of rural women of Meghalaya and providing an eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags, USHA reached Delhi and proved nothing is impossible.

The success story dates back to 2016 when Radhika Bharat Ram, Joint Secretary at Blind Relief Association in Delhi, approached USHA to conduct a vocational programme for visually impaired individuals.

USHA seized the opportunity and decided to come up with a curriculum that would work for the visually impaired. In three month's time, a program, tailor made for visually impaired, was launched and the trainees were provided USHA Janome machines which are compact yet packed with additional features and the rest is history. Sharing the first of a kind experience and how USHA executed it, Alok Shukla, Deputy General Manager, USHA Social Services, says,

We had never worked with the visually impaired individuals, so as an organization, it was an opportunity of learning and that is why the management decided to take this challenge. For the training, we changed some of the process in the machine functioning and some of the content also. The machines we trained them on, have additional features apart from the regular machines, so here you will be getting a feature of auto threading.

Also Read: USHA Silai School Reaches The Remotest Islands And Villages To Empower and Upskill Women

Till date, 70 individuals have been trained and eight other learners are undergoing a training. The impact has been such that five of the trainees chose the programme as a skill they want to pursue for earning a living.

Our aim is to make sure that our trainees are self-sufficient, independent and employable. We have a great team at the blind relief association working towards ensuring that we introduce new programs, new vocational skills that would help them in becoming self-sufficient, says Radhika.

In both Meghalaya and Delhi, USHA worked with one sole aim that is to empower and uplift individuals and provide them with an improved source of livelihood.

Also Read: With 3,500 New Silai Schools In The State, USHA And West Bengal Government Uplift Thousands Of Women

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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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