Wednesday, December 7

West Bengal: Help from NGO to make Covid-hit Sabars financially self-reliant

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Sabitri Sabar used to earn Rs 800 per week by making baskets, trays, table mats from Kashi grass and palm leaves but the pandemic has stopped her income and forced her to shift to another traditional work like making brooms out of bamboo and selling them in the local market. Around 12,000 Sabars live in Purulia’s 164 Sabar tolas. British law declared the Sabars a “criminal” tribe in 1872 while in 1952, they were delisted or denotified. But still, they are facing the stigma and are one of the most marginalized communities.
Like Sabitri, there are hundreds of Sabars in the villages of Purulia, who are living a precarious life today. “The handicrafts, made with Kashi grass, date-palm leaves and bamboo, do not have takers any more. As there are no fairs and markets are closed, it has become difficult for us to sell the products,” said Sabitri of Akarbaid village. Nearly 400 Sabar families are engaged in making brooms out of bamboo. To make Sabars self-reliant, Paschim Banga Kheria Sabar Kalyan Samiti, an NGO, has come up with different initiatives during the pandemic. “We tried to focus on sustainable development so that Sabars become self-reliant. Providing relief cannot be a solution, so we encouraged them to make kitchen gardens, a traditional way of making brooms out of bamboo and preserving biodiversity and trees. We got immense help from district administration,” said Prasanta Rakshit, director of the organization.
Bikram Mitra of Earth Craft, a social enterprise, has come forward to promote the Sabar handicrafts in the urban market.

Source: Times of India

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