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Building lives behind bars

- Dhanbad’s women inmates make papad, jam & pickles

Prisoners like Rahi Khatoon (35) and 44 other women at Dhanbad jail can start a new chapter in their lives.

For, they have learnt to make sundry goodies, like pickles, jam, jelly, papad and bori, to earn a livelihood once they are released.

The women were imparted vocational skills during a month-long training held from December 23, part of a correctional and motivational programme initiated by the jail administration in association with NGO Jan Shikshan Sansthan.

On Wednesday, a workshop was held on the jail premises to help them refresh their skills. Jan Shikshan Sansthan programme co-ordinator Dilip Kumar and trainers Indu Devi and Kiran Devi were among those present.

Jail superintendent S.C. Jha said that out of the 50 women lodged in cells, 45 had opted for the training. “It was an intensive exercise. Classes were held six days a week from 10.30am to 2.30pm. Raw material was provided by Jan Shikshan Sansthan,” Jha said.

An important and integral part of the training was information regarding packaging and marketing of products.

“The trainees were apprised about the places in Dhanbad where packaging is carried out. Various types and price were also explained to them,” Jha said, adding that they were also given mobile numbers of contact persons.

The NGO trainers also demonstrated marketing strategies during classes.

According to programme co-ordinator Kumar, the inmates showed keen interest in the lessons and actively participated in whatever they were asked to do during the training.

“They have resolved to use these skills as their source of livelihood after serving their terms,” Kumar added.

All 45 women received a certificate during Republic Day functions on the jail premises on January 26.

Director of Jan Shikshan Sansthan, Dhanbad centre, Jitendra Kumar Banerjee said that they had also held a course for electricians for 19 male prisoners and a sewing, stitching and embroidery training for the women in 2013.

“The basic objective behind organising these courses is to impart entrepreneurship skills to inmates so that they can become self-reliant and lead a respectable life after coming out of the prison,” Banerjee said.