A couple months of hiatus, traveling across different continents, relocating to a new country and a month-long intensive yoga workshop at the foothills of the Himalayas later, I finally have my feet and my mind in the same place, enough to write again about the splendours of art and craft. It is in fact one such splendour (which I have actually known about for couple years now), that completely renewed my energy (something they invariably manage to do each time I go there!) and compelled me to start writing again.
Stree Shakti is an empowerment scheme for the women who live in and around the village of Purkal in Uttarakhand.
Chinni Swami, whose initiative this is, moved to the village of Purkal with her husband (the couple also run a wonderful school in Purkal) more than a decade ago. Once there, her heart was set on starting some initiative to provide employment, financial independence and most importantly the confidence it brings, to the women from nearby villages. She initially started a venture of homemade packed Indian snacks. After eighteen months of running this, when it started showing its challenges in terms of lack of scalability and limited reach (since the food was all free of preservatives, the products had limited shelf life), she decided to start teaching women the art of patchwork, appliqué and quilting. What started as a venture with one woman, initially in her own home (not everyone who was part of the food venture could be absorbed since it involved a completely different skill set) has today turned into a growing enterprise where over 100 women work. The venture is currently into its 12th year, certainly a long journey, but perhaps not so, when you see the fantastic growth the initiative has seen in such little time.
Today, they are a member of the fair trade forum of India and are retailing their products through various channels in different countries. The product range includes quilts (of course!), stoles, pouches, bags, cushion covers and more.
A sneak peek at the goodies:
You can buy the products online on:
www.purkalstreeshakti.org and if you ‘like’ what you see, tell them so on Facebook!
Art has its own way of teaching some invaluable lessons. One such lesson it taught me is how connected the events in our life are. In yoga, we learn unity, cohesiveness of mind with body with soul. We learn the connection of ‘a’ with ‘b’. We learn how one leads to the other. My (and of many others like me) appreciation of their work inspires them to keep going and the hard work I see them putting into their venture inspires me to get going, once again. It was a Yoga workshop that took me to a tiny village called Purkal which is perhaps going to lead me to some new beginnings (like I mentioned earlier, to start with, its got me writing again).
Indeed, one thing leads to another.
p.s. you can read more on the Purkal Youth Development Society (the school) here: www.purkal.org