International Women’s day is a day of celebration for all women. The women of Stree Shakti always look forward to this day. A sports day was organized for the women in this connection. As the Rain God also decided to join in for the celebration, we had to conduct the sports day indoors. The wet weather did not dampen our spirits. The participants were full of enthusiasm and competed to their utmost ability as their little kids cheered them on.
India has millions of artisans producing beautiful crafts but gaining recognition for their products is an uphill task. Few come forward to help these poor artisans and revive the dying Crafts.
One such initiative, Foster and Forge, is trying to do precisely that. Consisting of a group of young people from different walks of life, they get involved with a few craft clusters every year trying to understand their problems and providing support.
Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti is grateful to have been chosen as one such cluster to participate in their workshop interacting with every one of their panel. We are excited about the possibilities this can open up for our artisans.
We are already working on making beautiful backpacks of their design and our skill with crazy patching. We hope that this collaboration will be very fruitful helping our artisans with design and markets!
“I remember when PSSS started in 2003 out of Chinni ma’am’s house. It was such a tiny thing then, only two women”, recalls Guddi didi, a trainer at Stree Shakti. “Now, we have over 170 women working here at the moment”, she adds proudly.
The first step in making the women self-reliant is the training programme, which first started six years ago. Each woman is trained in patchwork and quilting for six months. During this period, she is given a stipend of Rs. 750 per month, and all the material is provided free of cost.
After the training programme, the women are sorted into self-help groups (SHGs). There are 12 SHGs, each with a group leader, an assistant and an accountant to take care of the group’s finances. Each group also has its own bank account. All this enables the women to become more financially independent by working in SHGs that function autonomously under the Stree Shakti umbrella.
Apart from the entrepreneurial training, Stree Shakti also provides many benefits to the women here. Their children below the age of four are cared for at Shishu Shakti, a crèche-cum-playschool, at a nominal fee (they also provide need-based scholarships after a thorough survey of the household). They are also provided a meal a day, and free health care.
By taking exceptionally good care of their women, Stree Shakti enables the women to stand on their own feet and become the writers of their destinies.
At any given time, two training groups of 20 women each are training with our Society. Not only is this training free, it is also subsidized with a monthly payment given to the women. We have been running this Programme for quite some time now and as a result there are currently 140 women working with us through their Self Help Groups and benefitting from this initiative.
We have been attempting to raise funds for this service that we provide without significant success. We therefore decided that we would appeal to individuals to sponsor one or more women for training. This is not an ongoing commitment from year to year but a onetime sponsorship of a lady.
The cost of training a woman comes to Rs. 12,300/. Once a woman is trained for six months she starts earning Rs. 1,500 per month and in a year’s time takes home about Rs.5, 000 every month. With committed time she could earn up to Rs. 10,000 a month after 24 months of experience.
A small contribution of Rs 12,300/ USD 205/ GBP125 will pave the way for a poor woman into becoming a regular contributor to her family. More importantly she becomes a Self-respecting and respected earning member. This boosts her self-esteem and standing in the community – a consideration so important to empower her.
Further, we are planning to train a group of 30 women at Jhari Pani, a new Centre that we are commencing near Mussorie, from August onwards. The training of these women will also cost but we are hoping to get this programme funded by a Foundation.
Please help a woman to become self-reliant by paying just Rs.12300/ USD 205/ GBP125
Contact us at email@example.com to find out how
Our first outreach centre which was opened in Feb 2013 is now full and we are coming close to opening our second.
We were approached by some ladies from the hill station village of Jharipani who had heard of the work we do. We went to meet them and to have a look at some potential workspaces. We are very happy to report that this project is now going to go ahead. Initially we will be training 30 women and then expanding once we have additional space. We have found a suitable building and on 9th July 2014 we had a puja (a Hindu ritual) to sanctify the place. We are now looking for the necessary funding and we are aiming to be up and running in mid-August.
Here are some photos.
This week in the Purkal Stree Shakti workshops you can hear a lot more English being spoken. Some of our ladies asked to get English lessons so that they can sell the products to the international customers who visit us and also so that they can understand their children’s homework better. So after the winter holidays, classes started, 15 ladies go for 1 hour lessons every afternoon. The improvement within just a couple of weeks is fantastic. At first it was body parts and naming them but now there are full sentences being spoken and written about their families, the weekend and what time the chai break is! Hopefully we will have them writing some blog pieces at the end of their nine month course.
We are still travelling all over India to bring you our latest collections. This Month we are in Lucknow and Mumbai, have a look here – http://www.purkalstreeshakti.org/exhibitions for all the up to date information.
We are happy to see one of our board members taking such big steps in helping to empower women world wide.