Help for Weavers in Lockdown

Help for Weavers in Lockdown

“They were very relieved and happy to see all that was there in the ration kit,” said Sunitha about her two children, while expressing her gratitude to Oxfam India-MARI for the support during this critical time.

Belonging to the weavers community (Padmashali community), 35-year-old Sunitha is a single mother living with her two children and mother-in-law. After the death of her husband, it became her sole responsibility to feed the family and she started weaving sarees. She has a small house, where she also has a loom. She and her mother-in-law weave one saree in seven to ten days; for each saree they get paid a wage of Rs 2000 to Rs 3000 depending on the type of the saree. This is about Rs 150 a day, which is barely sufficient to meet their daily needs.

They get the money only when the saree is completed. The moneylender cum wholesale saree dealer provides them the raw material and wages after completion. If health permits, the daughter-in-law—mother-in-law pair earn upto Rs 10,000-Rs 12000 a month. But the loom had been idle since the lockdown began; when Oxfam India-MARI met them in May, the looms had been shut for nearly two months. Moreover, due to the lockdown neither were they getting more yarn, nor did they get paid for the saree they had already woven.     

The first couple of months has been particularly tough for the family; they did not have money to buy food. She was able to get some rice from the weavers society, but that was about it. She did not know much about the pandemic but she was worried about sending her mother-in-law and children out of the house.

Sunitha was very happy to receive the ration and said that it is sufficient to feed her family for at least one month; the soaps were sufficient for two months. With the support of Give India Foundation, Oxfam India-MARI reached out to 250 families with dry ration and safety and hygiene kits that included rice, dal, spices, masks and soaps. There is however, a lurking concern and worry about the future and how she would manage a family without proper income; about the fact that she might have to seek alternative job opportunities.

Though she was happy that she received the dry ration kit but she was quite worried about many others who had not received the ration. "Government has to rescue the weaving community as most families are suffering to even feed their families," Sunitha summed up.

The author is a member of MARI (Modern Architects for Rural India)

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