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Blog - Self Help Groups

THE RISE & RISE OF THE ANOOTHI WOMEN - CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY 2016

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“I was married at the age of fifteen and then was abandoned by my husband at sixteen with a child in my lap. I went to live with my mother and was responsible for her, my younger sister and my little son. It wasn’t easy and I was forced to do wrong things, which led to another cycle of abuse and exploitation beginning for me that lasted a couple of years. It was then that I was approached by Vatsalya to enrol in a skill-building programme. Even that wasn’t easy, as my past life kept intruding on my attempt to start a new and dignified life. But I settled down slowly and gradually.” Today she is one of the best and most hard-working of our artisans. With her earnings she sends her son to a good school, saves for her sister’s marriage and covers the medical expenses of her mother, who suffers from cancer."

Over the years, the Anoothi women have embraced the opportunity to learn new skills and actively change their lives and the future of their children and communities. Through Vatsalya's skill development programs there are now over 300 women from the surrounding villages of Jaipur and Ajmer city who work hard to make sure they become accomplished artisans and produce product of the highest quality.

International Womens Day is the opportunity for us to reflect and acknowledge these achievements and most of all for the women to celebrate!

Like all of us, these women deserve to be rewarded for their hard work and commitment. We are delighted to fund the cash incentive rewards for 10 women who have excelled and are out of the ordinary in their skill and their resolve to end the cycle of poverty and exploitation for themselves and their children. 

"They never lose focus, they inspire others, and they fight injustice and unfairness with a calm determination."

"International Women’s Day 2016 had an exuberance that we had never witnessed before. Women dressed in the brightest of colours, their saris bordered with gold and silver lace, their faces shining and electrified with a vivaciousness that would make the sheen of gold look dull! The sparkle in their eyes, their confidence and anticipation about the exciting things that would happen during the course of the day were palpable. They greeted each other warmly, hugged the children, waved joyfully to us sitting at the far end of the hall." Jaimala Gupta - Founder of Anoothi - The Creative Tribe of India

"It looked as if they had won the world over and as if they had no concern what so ever, except their resolve to make the most of their life and live it to its core, generously sharing the ecstasy and the bliss they felt in their hearts." 

The future unfolds...

From humble beginnings where ten to twelve women began learning how to make beaded jewellery in the dim light of a solar lamp to today where there are over three hundred women who have been trained by Vatsalya in various skills such as kantha work, wood block printing, patwa work and stitching. They make more than fifty different types of product using these skills and earn anything between Rs. 3000 to Rs. 12000 per month. With their earnings, they are sending their daughters to college, helping their sons start small businesses and have built their own houses. 

A showcase of the women's work that has been exported by Anoothi was presented during the day's activities. The women were in awe and admiration at how their modest little skills were making their way to far-off countries whose names they were hearing for the first time. For most of them, the boundaries of the world finished at the border of their villages and to learn a little bit of basic geography and discover how they crossed the vast oceans to these far-away places made them both surprised and delighted. They clearly had a new understanding of how big their little cooperative had become, and could be in the future!

 

"For most of them, the boundaries of the world finished at the border of their villages" 


Beautiful hand block printed table cloths for Cloth & Co.


Beautiful hand stitched kantha quilts for Cloth & Co.


Saroj - one of the recipients of a cash award for her achievements in block print training. Photo by Lucinda Rose

Despite the distance, we feel honoured to have a connection with these brave, courageous women. Seeing the remarkable sense of empowerment is so inspiring and shows the tremendous strength of these women who will rise out of the relentless cycle of poverty.

We look forward to celebrating many more significant milestones with Anoothi & Vatsalya in the future!

To follow our projects or to purchase beautiful hand crafted products from Cloth & Co. online shop www.clothandco.co 'like' us on Facebook and follow us on instagram @artisansoffashion @clothandco

Acknowledgements:

With thanks Jaimala & Hitesh Gupta for being such an inspiration along with the team at Vatsalya who work tirelessly to make it all possible; Praveen Chauhan - our friend and partner in India for attending the event on our behalf and capturing the festivities. EXIM Bank for believing in the Women and supporting the block print project, the Australian High Commission who continues to support AOF & the organisation and our heartfelt thanks go to all the people who have helped us continue the work we do with Anoothi and our other women's cooperatives we are supporting across India.

Photo credit: Abhik Nandy



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