Sewing A Better Future

Sewing A Better Future

The pandemic has left families in crisis. There are many who lost their jobs and livelihoods during the lockdown and despite the economy opening up, many have still not been able to either get their jobs back or restore the wages that they were getting pre-pandemic. The situation is worse for those who lost their sole breadwinners to the virus.

Fifty year old Meghna Mahadev Gavde from Mankhurd in Mumbai lost her husband to COVID-19. He left behind 3 daughters— the youngest 20-year-old is studying in college, the two older daughters are neither working nor studying. In order to make ends meet, Meghna started working as a domestic help.“I have to get my daughters married and see them through college. This is not going to be enough to meet my needs.”   

Manisha Mahadev Khawle lives with her husband and two sons on rent in Mankhurd in Mumbai. “My husband was working as a daily wage labour; he was a painter. He lost this job and even after the lockdown he was unable to get any work. His boss didn’t get any contracts and so there was no work for my husband. The situation is going from bad to worse – we hardly have any money for food or for my children’s studies.” Her children are studying in the 9th and 6th class.

Like Manisha, 33 year old Ankita Mahendra Zade lives with her husband who lost his job during the lockdown. “We had no other source of income or surplus wealth and the situation was becoming critical for us.”

For these women and many more, the volunteers from Samaj Vikas Sanstha (SVS) were god sent. “While we were distributing food kits in the various locations in the country it was clear that there was a need to work on long term sustainable interventions. We realised that many women SHGs had lost their jobs and sources of income during COVID-19. Keeping this in mind these initiatives were started in Mumbai and Delhi,” said Moitrayee Mondal, Humanitarian Programme Coordinator.    

Manisha says that the volunteers came to her locality about a free course on tailoring. “I told my husband I wanted to go for the training,” says Manisha. All these women joined the course where they were trained to stitch masks, carry bags and blouses at the SVS youth centre. The women who joined these trainings were those from extremely poor backgrounds.

In Mumbai, livelihood trainings are being carried out among 12 SHGs in Govandi and Mankhurd.  Women were trained in sewing and tailoring, running home-based saree businesses, small stationary shops and food vending stalls. These trainings are being done in collaboration with Siemens.

Manisha has already started taking stitching classes for her women in the neighbourhood. The others are very happy to be trained but still need a little more support to star their businesses. “The sewing machine I have at home is too old and it makes it difficult for me to stitch. This training has been a huge help to me especially at a time when my future seemed extremely bleak. My only request is that if I can get a new sewing machine it will help me to be better in my work,” said Meghna.

“As part of the process we held interface meetings with the government officials. Now we will be supporting women SHGs with input support. In the case of these women, we will soon be providing sewing machines,” explained Moitrayee. These trainings have been done in collaboration with Siemens.  

“I salute the work you are doing. You are giving opportunities to women to generate income and support families. I can now stitch for others. When I made the first blouse, it got me Rs 300. I had tears of joy in my eyes that I could create something and I could earn money. I wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Oxfam India and SVS,” said Ankita.

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