My New Dress

by | Sep 18, 2019

25 women getting tailoring training in PRDC (Pragathi Welfare Society)

This is my 6th month in my host organisation Pragathi, as an India Fellow and right now I am handling different projects. One of them is “1 lakh women empowerment program” in which our goal is to impact 1 lakh women by the end of June 2020. The project aims to empower these women through different initiatives like (i) SNEHA which is about  menstrual hygiene (ii) SMILES which is a single approach for different topics (S- sanitation, M- maternal and child care, I- immunization, L- lifestyle modification, E- education, S- screening and skill development program for women)

Pragathi Welfare Society, my host, works on different causes and right now running many projects like solid waste management, BIRD (Burgula Integrated Rural Development), apart from the ones mentioned above. Our office is located in Burgula, Rangareddy district, Telangana. The building is also known as PRDC (Pragathi Rural Development Center). I am responsible for everyday planning with field staff and report submission. So, we have a team of 6 women from the villages who are known as Pragathi Mitra. They are the village coordinators and work as our foot soldiers. They play a very important role in our organisation; they are the once who help us get and spread our work or message in the community. It is obvious that if we directly go to people and tell them about something, even if it is for their own good they may not show interest and think of us as an outsider. Rightly so. An outsider coming and saying something or someone from your village coming and saying something which will have more impact?

The SMILES card which we use during sessions.

I respect all the work that Pragathi is doing and being able to contribute is also an amazing feeling. For now, the place I have given is of project coordinator where I am supposed to plan and run the project in most effective way. I am the one who has to make sure that we are impacting 500 women every day in order to accomplish our goal of impacting 1 lakh women buy June 2020. Now comes what and how is this mammoth task done? Everyday our team visit some village and mobilize women in one place and take session in which they talk about SMILES and SNEHA (menstrual hygiene), its importance with the help of posters and banners and also giveaway two sanitary napkins to each women.

I give them the village names and the ASHA workers’ contact details one day before to our team so that they can call them in advance and inform them about session in the village and ask her to gather the women at a single place which makes it easy for us to go and do the sessions. I also go with them in the community and interact with the women. It becomes difficult for me to communicate because of the language barrier (i am a native of Jharkhand) but I enjoy going to villages and attending sessions.

One more project of ours is tailoring training for women. It is a 3 months tailoring training program where a batch of 25 women are getting trained. All of them are provided will sewing machine and once the training ends they can take the machine with them. Its been 2 months now and this is the last month of their training and we are trying to find market orders and job opportunities for them but there are many challenges too. Training them and giving sewing machine is something which was easy for us but when it comes to providing employment to them it is really tough. As if now we managed to get job offer from Suryalaxmi textile which is located in Shamshabad and it is around 50 to 60 km from Burgula. The problem is that women are not ready to travel so far as most of them are married and having children.

Now the option what we have is market the products ourselves, which is turning out to be very difficult but one of our team member Sai, who is also the team leader, is trying very hard to get employment opportunities. Recently we also visited some other organisation who are having tailoring training program to understand their way of training and how they are providing employment to the women after training. NIRMAAN training centre, Hyderabad is one of them where they are giving different types of training like IT, tailoring, beautician courses for the women and providing them employment or loans to start own business and etc. There most of the women are are getting jobs in the textiles or manufacturing companies and they are ready to go and work because it is all in or around Hyderabad. It is difficult for the women of our village to travel such a long distance everyday.

We discussed this with the project manager in Nirmaan office and he told us a story “The New Dress”. The story is about a small girl who always used to wear dirty clothes to school and her teacher noticed it and gifted her a new dress and the girl came back and gave that new dress to her mother to keep it nicely. But her mother noticed that the cupboard was all dirty and if she will keep that dress in there it will also get dirty so she cleaned the cupboard. Then she noticed the whole house was dirty which will again make cupboard dirty again so she cleaned the house too, when her husband came home he saw the house was all beautiful and clean from inside but looking dirty from outside he cleaned the house from outside and when the neighbors saw that and they also started cleaning their houses and this way whole colony was cleaned. By sharing this story what he meant was that if we manage to change one person, then eventually everyone around will see and try to change. This story, made a deep impression on me.

I have realized that the more we meet people, more we interact, the more we learn. The fellowship has allowed me to do so thus far, and i look forward to many such engagements in the upcoming months, especially during the midpoint training where all of us fellows get together again, with precious insights and stories from communities across India.

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