GATHAN – Weave a Bond
Gathan is a social initiative which aims to instill Self Entrepreneurship and Creative experimentation through skill development in women. Currently working with twenty tribal women, the project aims at providing them an alternate source of income from the sale of hand-made products. The women are trained to make hand-woven woolen bands and are encouraged to express their creativity by engaging in self-designed, marketable art and craft.
Gathan was established in a small, picturesque village called Nayaguda, located amidst the Aravali range in Udaipur. During my one-month stay in the village, as a part of the Village-Immersion program I identified unemployment as one of the main problems in the village. Most of the men and a few women earned their living by working as daily-wage labourers in nearby cities, breaking rocks, plastering homes and pulling carts, unexposed to other means of livelihood. The women on the other hand, forced to take care of the house and children, would spend long idle hours waiting for their husbands to return with a day’s earning. The lack of skilled jobs in the village combined with my enthusiasm and skill-sets in art, slowly led to the formation of our women’s collective, Gathan which coincidently means constitution.
Spending hours together with the women, knotting, cutting and untangling the woolen threads, the women learnt the art of weaving bands. The women would meet in the evenings, chit-chat, weave bands and return home before sunset to cook their meals. Starting off as an experiment, it has now led to the production of more than 500 bands. The bands have been sold to 5 organizations in Rajasthan and Goa, and have received tremendous support from friends and well-wishers. Since the initiation of the project, the women have been exposed to several activities and programs to hone their creative skills and widen their perspectives on education and socio-economic empowerment. Band-weaving sessions, Meetings to share work of other SHGs, Group sittings to discuss pricing of the products, field-visits to other organizations (Sadhna), sessions to teach them how to write their name (Literacy program), and a platform to create their own products during the Diwali break was provided to the women. Skilled in weaving 5-different types of patterns, the women earn a monthly income of 1200 Rupees.
Working on this project for the last 8-months gave me the opportunity to experience failure, exercise my leadership skills, and broaden my vision and perspectives on social issues and most importantly understand the idea of sharing and coexisting together as human beings.
In the coming months, the project seeks to increase its production to a 1000 bands and work on linking the women’s collective to several other livelihood generation programs. The sustainability of the project is one of the biggest challenges but the joy and excitement of the women keeps me hopeful and motivated about its future.
A project by Sharada kerkar & Aayushi Maira
Gandhi Fellows, Batch 7, Girwa, Udaipur
You Can Buy or Get these Products at:
Kiara Clothing, Opp. Khadi Bhandar, Bapu Bazar, Udaipur
Or Call : 9799022227
Photos by: Siddharth Nagar (9460824020)