A group of women, who lost their livelihood during the pandemic, learnt to stitch and made bags and masks that flew off the rack during an exhibition on Republic Day.
The women sold goods worth Rs 14,000 in their first exhibition held at Hingalganj in North 24-Parganas.
One of the women was Anita Halder, 33, who lost her savings and had to take a loan for her husband’s treatment and provide for her two-year-old child. Her husband, a labourer, returned home from Tamil Nadu and fell ill.
On most days, she took her child to the training centre, since there was no one to look after the baby.
Altogether 17 women had enrolled for the training, which started in November.
Some of them, holding graduate and postgraduate degrees, gave tuitions but parents stopped sending their children.
“We want to make it a sustainable project. But for now it is a fight for bread and butter for all of them,” said Pulak Roy Chowdhury, the headmaster of Kanaknagar SD Institution in Hingalganj, who initiated the training.
Metro reported about the training weeks after it had started.
The initiative, titled Mom Sundarban Society, was started to empower women in the area.
Roy Chowdhury has also created the self-help group and opened a bank account so that transactions can be done from that account, he said.
“These women have to learn to manage their own businesses, from sale to accounts. We don’t want middlemen to walk away with their profits,” said Roy Chowdhury.
The women have received further orders of Rs 10,000 and will participate in an exhibition in the city.
It is not easy, as one of the women said, because it means balancing work at home and at the workplace. “We all go to the centre and work together. We also look after our homes,” she said.
The first taste of earning in 10 months has made many of them shift their focus on tailoring.
Twenty-five-year-old Soumita Kayal, a postgraduate in English, realised that she could have other sources of earning too.
“The fact that people were buying has made me realise that there is a market we can cater to. When I enrolled for the training in November, I didn’t expect that within two months we would have an exhibition and earn from it,” said Kayal.
“I had never done stitching before that. There is a lot to learn,” she said.
Before the lockdown, Kayal was teaching a few children at home but parents stopped sending them during the pandemic.
“If the children come back, I will teach them. But I will continue my business, too,” she said.