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Best from waste a new livelihood mantra

- Voluntary organisation teaches underprivileged women to craft items from biodegradable paper

The next time you discard a wedding card or sell an old magazine to the scrap dealer, remember that someone somewhere can make a living out of it.

A group of women and girls, mostly victims of domestic violence or school dropouts from Jamshedpur and its outskirts, is on their way to becoming financially independent by creating myriad items like earrings and pen stands from waste papers and plants.

A city-based social organisation, People for Change, which had taken the fair team under its wings and imparted training to them, will also market their products under the label, The Earth Shop. On Monday, an exhibition at the Tata Business Support Services (TBSS) in Sakchi offered a preview of some of their creations. On display were designer traditional earrings, pen stands and jewellery boxes made from biodegradable papers, Sabai grass and date palm leaves.

“We don’t use any synthetic materials and instead are promoting the concept — From the earth, to the earth. Hence, we chose to promote ourselves under the brand name, The Earth Shop. Our main purpose is to make these women and young girls self-reliant so that they can earn a livelihood on their own,” said Souvick Saha, who runs People for Change.

As of now, 22 women and girls within the age group of 14 to 35 years are being trained by the organisation. The idea is to create self-help groups (SHGs), where the women will pick up livelihood skills and manufacture products. The NGO will find a market for the items through e-commerce, fairs and exhibitions.

“As of now, we will be targeting a customer base through the exhibition circuit. Eventually, we will float a website for selling the products of The Earth Shop,” Saha added.

The USP of the products is their very nominal prices. A waste paper earring costs Rs 30 while sets come for Rs 300, pen stands are priced at Rs 150 each and Sabai grass jewellery box at Rs 300 each.

“Most of these women want to run their families and send their children to schools as they don’t get support from their husbands. There is constant abuse at home and they are looking for avenues to better their lives,” said trainer Rituparna Roy, adding that they also impart lessons on making papads, masala and badis.

As for the beneficiaries, they couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. “My husband is an alcoholic and unemployed. Though I work as a maid to provide for my two children, I want a better life and am making paper jewellery now,” said Anjana Pradhan, one of the beneficiaries.

People for Change, which got in touch with the girls and women through the United Front for Health and Environment, another organisation working for school dropouts and victims of domestic violence, also organises tutorial classes and remedial lessons for underprivileged school students.

Do you think the initiative will be a success?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com


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