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USHA Silai School Trainee, Metilda Mary Is Teaching New Skills To Tamil Nadu Women

USHA Silai School Trainee, Metilda Mary Is Teaching New Skills To Tamil Nadu Women

From being a daily wager in Tiruppur two decades ago to becoming a self-employed tailoring and training entrepreneur, Metilda Mary has come a long way. A week-long professional tailoring programme by the USHA Silai programme in 2010 was the turning point; it just changed her life. After the training, USHA gave Ms Mary a machine. She set up a centre in the front yard of her house, and trained women from her village for a modest 500 rupees a month Her quality of work and training became a superhit. Women from her village and the neighbourhood flocked to her to get their dresses made, or then to learn sewing from her.

Also Read: USHA With NGOs In West Bengal Help Women Generate Income Through Traditional Stitching Art Forms

Narrating her journey, USHA Silai school teacher and entrepreneur, Ms Mary said,

I received lots of help from USHA, be it Mr Vadivelan or Kalki madam, never did they say no. Earlier just one new customer would come from a village unexpectedly hearing that I deliver quickly. I worked hard and made sure seeing them in the dress I stitched others would ask who made that. I tell them too why I take this kind of a risk. someone should ask them who's the tailor who stitched the blouse.

Soon Ms Mary needed to expand. She shifted her centre to her terrace, added two more machines, and roped in three of her trainees as paid employees, multiplying her output. She said,

I began to enter deep into my work. The customers are going to pay us if we deliver at the appropriate time they want, and the orders for us would then increase. In course of time I became synonymous with early delivery of dresses. I prepared the women in my team. they too would never go on leave. They are so involved. I am so lucky to have them with me.

Ms Mary earns around 40,000-50,000 rupees every month through tailoring and training. She employs ten women and has trained nearly 200 women in this village. Now she's an inspiration, motivating many women to aim high and have dreams & ambitions just like her. Her steadily growing income has transformed her family She sent her son, Liyander, to study engineering at a private university in Chennai. He has completed his Bachelor of Technology (BTech) and wants to specialise in ethical hacking, so he can contribute to making the internet a safer place to be. Her daughter, Esther who has completed Class XII aspires to become a doctor.

Also Read: USHA-Gram Utthan In Odisha Are Empowering Women To Open Their Training Centres

Earlier Ms Mary had also helped her husband buy a commercial vehicle that he earns his livelihood from. Trained by Ms Mary, Josephine, Mahalakshmi and Alamelu are now part of her core team. They share work according to their expertise and ensure their dresses measure up to her standards and are ready on time for delivery. Ms Mary also creates opportunities for them to earn more. The economic benefits have begun to empower these rural women. Alamelu joined Ms Mary's classes six years ago. Now she earns around five thousand rupees a month. The daughter of a mason has turned financially independent. She has saved two lakh rupees for her wedding. She now wants to set up her own tailoring centre where she stitches and sells dresses as well.

USHA Silai school learner, Ms. Alamelu said,

I joined in 2016, and later I bought a machine and worked from home but it didn't work. I joined again in 2018, and now I earn five thousand rupees a month. I spent around two thousand and have saved two lakh rupees for my wedding. It's so important to be able to take care of my expenses without depending on anyone. I want to set up my own big shop offering everything for women.

Less than a kilometre away, Josephine Mary gets her three children ready for school before leaving for work. Her husband is a farm labourer and she supplements his income with her own earnings of 7000 rupee a month. As a girl she faced discrimination at home. Now empowered economically, she wants to give her two daughters and son the best opportunities. The vocational nurturing by Ms Mary she says has given her dignity.

USHA Silai school learner, Ms. Mary said,

This is my first job. I began with doing hook work, and later started stitching and doing other work. This is beneficial to my family. Although my husband goes to work daily and earns around ten thousand, he's not very serious and I can't run the family with that. With my salary I can take care of home expenses and save a little too. I can stitch seven or eight blouses a day. I'd also do hook work in between without wasting time. I did not study, just because I was a girl. I want to educate my two daughters and son in whatever field they would like to and make them good citizens. I work with confidence and look after my children. none should look down upon me and say i ate on their earnings. Nothing is impossible for women. They can transform the country and I want to be one of them.

Also Read: USHA-Sarvodaya Ashram Are Teaching Traditional Stitching Techniques To Uttar Pradesh Women

Also for Ms Mahalakshmi, the former domestic help says the training has given her dignity. The mother of two children, she stitches around 150 blouses a month. She uses her income of around seven thousand to run the family. Her husband works a few hundred kilometres away in Tirupur. Thanks to Ms Mary the family is able to save the entire earning of ten thousand rupees a month. They plan to build a house and give their children a good education. USHA Silai school learner, Ms. Mahalakshmi said,

My salary takes care of home expenses. We are able to save my husband's entire salary of ten thousand rupees to build a house and to educate our children. (patch) I take care of hospital expenses, food and dresses for children. I am able to get them what they want. I wish to set up a tailoring centre and I want to employ at least four people.

Metilda Mary's work has positively impacted at least ten women outside her circle of mentees. One of them, Francisca Rani, is an Ari specialist. She engages Ms Rani for special festive clothing orders helping her get orders worth around fifteen thousand every month.

USHA Silai school learner, Ms. Rani said,

During the wedding season I'd get busy. Other times I'd get normal kinds of work. I'd get around fifteen thousand to twenty thousand rupees. This is very helpful to run my family. i've two sons and the income is good to look after them. People look at me with value and respect. I've acquired self confidence that we too can do it.

Ms. Mary has contributed to building their own modest home as well. Her passion is so strong. She wants to reach even greater heights. She said,

I want to set up a stitching centre and give stitching jobs to at least a hundred people. I want to start a company. I've been assured of orders, and I want to extend the room for more machines and start stitching. The customers expect only blouses to be fitting. They don't mind churidars and shirts being slightly loose. We can employ more people and do it. However, I will continue this work. This is God's gift, and I will not stop.

Ms Mary is among the top performers within the USHA Silai School community. Inspired by the transformation, the team says they are motivated to pursue their vision for rural development by establishing at least one such school in every village across India.

USHA Silai school regional manager - South, Vadivelan Perumal said,

There are more than 30000 plus Silai schools across India in states and union territories. We wish to have at least one Silai school in every village across our country particularly in remotest parts that will help in holistic and rural development. Besides the vocational & economic empowerment of women, the model also sets into motion a chain of social and educational transformation of communities at large. This has the potential to turn into a nationwide movement of change and empowerment and bring India's rural women the confidence and skills to be entirely self-sufficient.

Also Read: Manipur's Yarshang Shimray Is Leading The Way To Eco-Friendly Fashion By Recycling Old 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

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Usha Silai School has empowered many rural women to support their family and send their children to school.

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Usha Silai School learner Lucy has trained seven other women in her community, helping them to become financially independent.

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