Know Our Artisans
Ratan is a lovely young woman who does tailoring for Sadhna. She lives alone with her 9-year-old daughter,Bhawna. She has worked in Sadhna for 4 years and she does tailoring in one of the new electric machines.
He smiling face conceals hard life. Her husband died about 3 years ago and she was thrown out of her home with her young daughter, with no money or means of support. Her in-laws were angry with her because she had a daughter and not a much-coveted son.
She came to Udaipur and started her search for suitable work. She tried many things- she worked at a PCO (public phone), she applied henna at weddings etc, and she faced a lot of harassment and abuse as a young woman without male support. She was disheartened and at the end of her tether, when a friend told her about Sadhna adn hear she found a safe place that awoke hope in her.
She settled well into her work and sent her daughter to school. Her major ambition is toeducate her daughter well. Today she is a group leader and is responsible for 16-women's work. I asked her what that means. She told me that she oftn completes incomplete work and works extra.
She is confident and bright. She has travelled to Somnath and Ahmedabad in trips organized by Sadhna to see other organizations work. She has many friends at work and sometimes brings her daughter who playes and chats with everyone.
" I work all days of the week. Six days I work and then take work home on Sundays. To earn well Ineed to do extra work. Our Sadhna is not just good. Really,its very good ."
Ratan Kanwar Chauhan
Paras is one of the earliest members of Sadhna- she's worked with them for 20 years. She was orignially from Maddaar, a small town near Udaipur, and she used to do patchwork embroidery while she lived there. She received training in embroidery from Sadhna in beginning.
Paras had a tumultuous personal life. She was married 22 years ago. Her husband left her with a small son to bring up. She moved to Udaipur and worked to feed her family.
Although she is plaughed with health problems, she continues
to work when she can. Her in-laws are supportive of her efforts and live with her. She is fighting a legal case against her husband and has to pay for that too. Her 15-year-old son is her major hope.
She is cheerful in spite of her problems ad enjoys working in the large all-women's tailoring unit in Udaipur. She enjoys having friends there and the camaraderie. She told us about the electric machines replacing the old foot operated ones, and Sadhna having to install a large generator because frequent power cuts disrupted work.
She has travelled to Lucknow and Jodhpur with Sadhna to visit other similar groups and learn how they function.
" I was the eldest and I had younger brothers and sisters , and had to look after them. They all studied, I was the one who did not. "
We met Rukma at the tailoring unit of Sadhna at Udaipur. She was very engrossed in what she was doing. When told that she will be interviewed, her reactions was, why only me, we all have stories to tell.
She tell us that she has been working with Sadhna for 18 years and she is benefited hugely. She has a regular income, she can get easy loans when she needs it, some money is saved in a provident funds for her and she gets bonuses every year.
She has 3 grown up children and the money she earned was mostly used to pay for their education.
She doesn't speak much and the impression we get is of a dignified and reserved woman who has cared well for her family and is proud of her work.
Gayatri Suthar, a 29 year old lady who got married at the age of 17. She dreamed of having a blissful marriage, but a month after she entered her in-laws house she was thrown out because they had money and she didn’t. She along with her husband shifted base to Jaipur city, there she use to do some small stitching works. After 3 years she gave birth to a baby boy. The struggles became even more difficult. To manage a baby on almost no money was a backbreaker. Then her mother who was veteran with Sadhna suggested that she shift base to Udaipur and start working with the organization, at least that way she’ll be able to save money, rather than just making ends meet or sometimes not even that. When she moved back to Udaipur her life seem to be shaping up. She and her husband were both working and saving money for the education of their kid. In her words “It was a happy life.”
She was a hardworker at Arunodaya (Sadhna’s production house). She use to be an active participant at all of their meetings, sometimes constructive, sometimes not, but always feisty. She questioned a lot of things and one of her major concern was not paying for the ESI (Employment State Insurance). According to the Social Manager at Sadhna, she created a fuss at multiple occasions about why the money was deducted from her salary, when it wasn’t yielding her any results. According to the ESI rule book a fraction which is only 1.75% of money is deducted from their salary and the rest 4.75% is paid by Sadhna. This scheme insures that the worker and their dependant be taken care of and be treated well without any monetary constraints in any health emergency ranging from a major fracture to pregnancy to cancer and the likes.
Gayatri didn’t understand the importance of the scheme then and wanted to withdraw her ESI card. She went ahead to say as much as “I don’t have the time to get sick.” But as fate would have it, her husband got ill and after a few tests at the government hospital was detected with Kidney Failure. After which she took her husband to a super specialty hospital. There she was made aware that this particular center falls under the ESI scheme, after which she contacted Sadhna and the Social Manager and the Human Resource Manager went to facilitate things for her. Both these people worked hard and fast and contacted all the concerned personnel to refer Gayatri’s ESI so that she wouldn’t have to pay for any of the expensive treatments then and dialysis henceforth. Her husband’s treatment then cost her somewhere around 45000 rupees or so and since then every dialysis which happens twice a week at the 4500 rupees per sitting has been free of cost. The biggest relief that according to Gayatri is that for a minimum wage worker like her, a appropriate treatment and survival for a far cry had it not been for such organizations and schemes. She thanks Sadhna for a livelihood that she is passionate about, caring for her deeply and giving her husband a second chance at life.
Now when I see her she is this calm, smiling face that has an absolute positive attitude towards life. She inculcates the same spirit in her husband, who because of the pressures of the disease wants to give up on life now and then, but she enlists him with the strength to carry on. She carries the same attitude towards her work here at Sadhna, She says, everyone here treats her like a sister and is very helpful; they don’t look down upon her because she doesn’t know something they encourage and motivate her. All of them try to bring out the best in each other. She says, “I see other people with more disparity then mine and realize I am the fortunate one to still eat, work and live with the love of my family. I am happy and thankful to have found Sadhna.”
Sheela Yadav – one of our handicraft artisan members residing in Delwara Village, around 26 Kms from Udaipur city shares her experiences of working with the organization. Sheila has been a part of SADHNA since last 15 yrs. Sitting with her member friends she recalls how opportunities for financial independence through the organization has helped her gain a respectable position in the family and the society. Seventeen years ago the idea of income generation activity was proposed and suggested to women from the village. A small group of 15 women joined the group and were trained, Sheila being one of them. Initially her husband revolted and resisted the idea of his wife working. Soon, however the financial benefits for the families outweighed any resistance the men may have felt. Sheila and her friends noted that their husbands were pleased that SADHNA allowed them to work closer to home. She puts in 5-6 hrs of embroidery work everyday. She continues to work till late evenings especially when there are large orders, thus maintaing balance between her routines household chores and her embroidery work.
Sheila is a widow; due to heavy drinking habits her husband’s liver got damaged. He expired a year ago. She recollects this was the most difficult face of her life. Today Sheila views her work with Sadhna as a source of independence and livelihood. Sheila and her friends feel that they have a greater sense of autonomy since their earning potential is a significant component of their family well being. She spends her earnings on family needs, including household items. Children’s education.
Today Sheila is bold and confident and working in Sadhna has empowered her as a woman, wife and mother. She says that I would like to pass on one message to every woman that they should educate and work so that they would be independent.