Jodhpur and Payal Empowerment Centres
For the last 4 months we have been very fortunate in having a volunteer from Germany, Christa Holland, who has expertise in sewing and has been helping with developing new ideas in both Empowerment Centres and upgrading the sewing techniques. We now have an electric sewing machine in each centre which the girls have been taught to use, along with the treadle sewing machines they use at present. They have been able to develop their soft-toy making by making dolls as well as camels and elephants and they have also improved the type of seams they are using on garments and the standard of finishing items. The girls have been really keen to learn these new ideas and it has inspired them to create new items and develop their own creativity.
We also been holding various workshops on women’s empowerment and educating them on their rights as women. One of the workshops was on the problems of domestic violence and how to manage in these situations, unfortunately one of the major problems that the women can encounter when they are married. For this we obtained the help of a local professional person who was able to give them help and practical advice.
We are very happy also, that Anita, one of girls who has polio has been gifted with a scooter from supporters of Sambhali Trust in Germany. She really wanted to have a scooter as she wanted to become more independent and not reliant on others for transport. She is one of students who has been with Sambhali from the beginning and now is taking on tutoring in jewellery-making and is able help and advise other students in the class.
August 15th, Independence Day, meant celebrations and dancing in our Empowerment Centres. In the Payal Centre, we were honoured with a visit by the Vice-Mayor of Jodhpur and our students were able to speak about what being empowered meant to them as well as giving a short theatre and dance performance.
Graduates’ Sewing Centre
Following a bulk of orders which lasted up until the middle of August, since September, the women in the sewing centre have been producing stock for the Sambhali Boutique which is in the centre of Jodhpur. They have been busy making elephants, camels, toiletry bags, kurtas and salwaars and various shoulder bags. This is a very busy time, because we have a lot of tourists coming into the boutique at this time of year, so the girls have been working well to keep up with the number of items necessary. Some women at the Payal Empowerment Centre who have been attending for the last 2 years are now also starting to make items for the boutique. They have been developing cushion covers and table runners using the Rajasthani kanta stitch and using their embroidery techniques to make small birds, camels as tree decorations as well as small elephants. We are considering developing more products using their embroidery as it looks so attractive.
Setrawa Empowerment Centre
Apart from our regular teachers at the Centre, Usha, Mool Singh and Puja we have also had a few volunteers going to Setrawa over the last few months. This helps particularly, as we are able to divide the children into different classes according to their ability and so they get more individual attention. This means that we now have 50-60 children in the after-school class, where they improve their English. Usha and the volunteers have been continuing with the girls from the Dalit class (those who don’t attend school) and are doing hygiene, basic Hindi, English and Maths. Our present volunteer, Caroline, has started what she calls the “Peacock Class”; where she is widening the curriculum and introducing educational activities and telling simples English stories, rhymes and songs. She also has introduced “circle time”, which encourages each student to express themselves and helps them in their self-esteem and confidence. On Saturdays, they have Fun Activities including, Art, Drama and Health and Hygiene. Usha, the Centre Administrator is going to start a daily sewing class for the local women and older children who want to learn to sew using a sewing machine and start making clothes.
Sheerni Microfinance Project
This project is consolidating well and over 60 women have now been helped directly through the scheme so that they are able to purchase items such as electrical machines to help them with their work, goats, cows, or set up a small enterprise in the village. Many women have decided to set up small little shops selling food items; this helps the women to start selling items, to understand simple business principles and take responsibility that they would otherwise not have had and start making a profit. With increased confidence and understanding of the market, they will be able to expand their businesses in the future. All the self-help groups are supervised by our Administrator who is able to make sure the loaning system is carried out in a considered and correct manner and that the repayments are made accordingly.
The Sheerni Project was paid a visit by the Informal Sector Enterprise, Entrepreneurship and Local Economic Development Programme, who were an international group of delegates from all over the world who were visiting microfinance projects in India to look at their progress. We were very happy that they chose Sheerni as one of their projects.
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