Rehaana Khatoon at work in one of the Jharcraft loom sheds. Telegraph picture
Rehaana Khatoon is a proud mother of three and one of the best weavers in Nayasarai cluster, Dhurwa. She works on stitching frames and dobby looms to weave a better life for her family, thanks to Jharcraft.
“I send my children to English-medium school and save my earnings with the local branch of UCO Bank to secure my children’s future,” the 30-year-old said.
Rehaana’s life wasn’t smooth as silk all along.
Even a few years ago, the family struggled to make ends meet. Her husband was jobless and she would make only around Rs 1,000 a month by tailoring clothes.
Given one chance and she proved her mettle.
Rehaana, along with a few hundred rural women like her, underwent a basic training in weaving organised by Jharcraft around two years ago.
She was among a few who picked up the techniques very fast and received an advance training under Jharcraft’s Integrated Handloom Development Scheme.
Today, Rehaana sells finished products to Jharcraft and earns Rs 6,000 a month. “My positive attitude and eagerness to learn have helped me revive my life. Today, I don’t support my family, I run it,” she smiled.
Anjumnissa (40), also from Nayasarai, had a similar story to share. After the vocational training, she is not only enjoying her work, but also helping others to carve a niche for themselves.
“Earlier, my children used to go to a madarsa. But today, I am able to provide them English-medium education,” said Anjum. She makes Rs 5,500 a month now.
There are nearly two dozen women in Nayasarai, near Jagannathpur, who are showing the path to others like them.
Under the Rs 41.70-lakh handloom development scheme, around 400 rural women from 25 self-help groups were trained in phases in basic weaving.
During the 15-day workshops, these women were given many tips on weaving. A few like Anjum and Rehaana learnt things fast.
On the basis of their performance, Jharcraft selected 25 women for an advance programme where they were taught different techniques of weaving, besides being given lessons on colours and designs.
On successful completion of the training, each candidate received Rs 1,100 and a certificate of appreciation from the state government.
Jharcraft managing director Dhirendra Kumar said first, these women were trained in ordinary weaving and then they were introduced to dobby looms. “Around 25 such ladies have picked up dobby weaving. They are now making good designs and fine silk saris on dobby looms.”
Jharcraft has set up seven “work sheds” and installed 60 dobby looms for these expert women who now weave high-quality handloom products and earn between Rs 4,000 and Rs 6,000 a month. Their production capacity has also increased to 10-15 saris a month from one or two earlier.
Nazia Hassan, senior cluster manager of Nayasarai, said: “We inspired these women to join us. Initially, the response wasn’t good. But, things have changed in the past couple of years. Their numbers have also increased from seven to 400.”
Kumar added that they had recently installed electronic Jacquard, a loom to make complicated embroidery patterns with ease. The Jharcraft is now planning to make a documentary on these women weavers to inspire others.