Forty-three-year-old Ayesha Marfatia from Kadi, Mehsana, has been a member of Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a trade union of over 2 lakh self-employed women, since she was 12.
From taking tuitions for underprivileged kids to being a crafts designer, she has managed it all, thanks to the Gujarat Sewa Women’s Cooperative Federation (GSWSCF)’s three-year MoU with Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) and National Culture Fund (NCF), Ministry of Culture, which has provided livelihood and design skills to 1,460 artisans from five districts of Gujarat through design skills upgradation.
“My income has doubled from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 today after I have become a designer and can create my own designs. I teach patchwork, applique work to girls and this three-year course has given me the vision to create my own design.”
For 42-year-old Saira Bukhari, from Jamalpur in Ahmedabad, an association with SEWA since 23 years brought her out of her veiled life and has made her a jetsetter, who teaches at premium design schools, like NID and NIFT, in Ahmedabad. “When I joined SEWA at 16, I could not even step outside my own house and observed purdah. I learnt block printing and bamboo art and today I am a crafts teacher to 800 artisans at SEWA and make my own designs.”
The 3-year-long project concluded with a meeting of 200 artisans in Ahmedabad Thursday, covering 11 crafts, like embroidery, weaving, patchwork, bandhani, crochet, block printing, ajrakh print etc. Chandrapal Sinh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, and Rajeev Sharma, CMD of REC, were present. Another MoU in the Traditional Crafts Heritage Project is in the works for the project for which Rs 1.58 crore were raised by the stakeholders involved in the project, said Lalita Krishna-swamy, the Programme Director of GSWSCF. “We’re looking to convert the 120-year- old Sewa ni Haveli building which we restored under this project in these three years into a centre of excellence for 11 crafts forms and start a skill training school for crafts people and make it a tourism centre,” she said.