How it all Began...
Gurgaon, a leading financial and industrial hub and the house of leading multi nationals is also where I live. The queer thing about Gurgaon is that every high end condominium here has a tiny insignificant adjoining village with no existence of its own. These small self sustained villages are like a world on their own, but with hardly any connection or limited interaction with the world around them. One such village is Jharsa.
I have been volunteering at a school for underprivileged children called Bagiya. The Sanshil Foundation runs this school as well as a stitching centre in Jharsa village. I happen to visit this centre along with Bagiya students. The grounds of the village Chaupal are being used for a great purpose here. Every morning at around 10 am women assemble here, take their tools out and start knitting, do embroidery or stitching. What surprised me was the massive talent that these women possessed. There was nothing they could not create. From cloth bags to pullovers and crochet work to handicrafts using nylon strings and straws- they knew it all.
With limited means to support their venture, it was disheartening that these women are hardly getting any opportunity to display their skills and use it to earn some extra money for them and their families. This is just one example of a major problem India faces-wastage of talent. As soon as I started talking to them, they had so many stories to tell about their talent and how they want to use it.
These women are trapped in restrictions prevalent in the Indian society. Patriarchy, caste-based barriers, economic inequalities prevent these women from creating a market for their products and using their talent to the fullest potential.
My mind was made up then and there. I will suggest to the Sanshil Foundation and we could try bringing their products to the urban areas and showcase their skills to the rest of the world. We decided to establish our Ecofactory. Its aim is to promote the art work and handicraft work made by these women and help them develop a market for their products. I am sure that this venture would not only benefit the women in supporting themselves financially, but would also awaken India about its rich cultural heritage that is unfortunately dying out.