Education is essential for change and growth in any society; however, skill education is missing in many parts. Among many Indian villages, Our Artisan Mithu Das belongs to Village Sarbari, District Purulia, West Bengal. Literacy India has had its presence in Purulia for over a decade, empowering and educating the tribal and underserved rural communities.
Full of aspirations, Mithu Das, got married quite early in life without completing her high school education. She lives with her in-laws and her husband, who sells vegetables in local haat.
Her restlessness grew and evolve took her to Literacy India centre, Raghunathpur, where she learnt needlework and embroidery. Beautiful thread colours and designs changed her life. In no time, she aces in her learning and joined Literacy India`s Social Enterprise, Indha, which has empowered over ten thousand women since 2005 by giving them a platform to earn and learn. Mithu joined the artisan team. Her beautiful handcraft can be seen in Lord Krishna design which is sold as a Gift Box online. Mithu, along with her family, feels her life is changing.
Chinta Mahato, the wife of Amulya Mahato, a homemaker, lives in Village Gobag under Neturia Thana of Purulia District.
In Rural India, early marriages of girls is a norm. Families born with girls are considered a burden. Chinta Mahato was one daughter among the four. She was only 17 when she got married because of extreme poverty; her father decided to marry her off to another poor farmer.
Her dreams of completing her education could not fulfil. At an early age, she became a mother of two, a son and a daughter. Her inner resolve to change her made her come to the Literacy India centre, and her husband supported that. She not only become skilled in stitching but also embroidery.
Soon her skill started giving her income; through Indha, her quality of needlework increased the number of orders. Chinta Mahato is very punctual and quite disciplined in submitting her work. Her income increased in no time, with her first income of Rs.2000/- she bought a school bag for her son. She wants her children to complete their education, and her income will make sure of that.
Sampa Das lives at Sarbari Village under Neturia block of Purulia District of West Bengal with her husband and one son. Her Husband, Laxmi Kanta Dan, is a Tutor, and his income is relatively meagre to meet the family`s needs. Their son is studying in class VII. She joined embroidery classes at Literacy India to learn and earn to value add to family income.
COVID-19 impacted their lives, and Her husband’s stopped getting work. Soon their savings got over, and they could not even feed themselves.
Literacy India supported them with food and funding, and along with the earning from Indha, life came back to normal. She is thrilled now and feels quite proud that she can help her family financially.
Purulia, the land of red soil in Bengal, Palash flower blooms and transforms into charming beauty. On the other hand, Ayodhya hill nearby showcases enriching mythology. The traditional Chau dance narrates stories of Lords and Demons with the use of colourful masks and their various forms. In the Presence of art and culture, Prativa Singh lives in Village Lowakui, surrounded by lush green forest and hills of Baghmundi. Prativa`s father is a farmer and the only source of family earnings. Prativa, along with her three siblings, lives below the poverty line, yet she is resilient, intelligent and creative. She wanted to learn painting in school; however, there was no such facility when she completed her Class Xth in a nearby govt school.
She got the opportunity to learn Painting through Literacy India. Within Three months, She showed great potential in art. With the firm guidance of her teacher, she started making various handpainted products like Kettle, Coaster, Photo frame and Madhubani Art. Indha inducted her as an Artisan, and her handpainted products are now being sold online. She can now help her parents with her income. Art saved the way.
Shakuntala is one of the most elder artisan of Indha. She has been working with Literacy India for almost 12 years. She was able to support her family till now and is still, working. Due to old age, her husband’s health is not good and he cannot work outside. Her son works as a security guard in a private company. The financial condition of her house is quite stable, but she is not ready to quit as she wants to be self-dependent. We salute her courage and determination at this age.
Radha Devi is a mother of two and wife of an Alcoholic. She comes from Darbhanga District, Bihar. Life had been hard on her, having lost her father and her brother early in life, and she was married off, like thousands of young girls do to avoid poverty and with a hope for a better life. She soon became a victim of domestic violence. She stepped out of her village in search of work. Radha Devi worked as a maid in many houses and as an agriculture worker as well. With the help of some relatives, she came to Gurgaon searching for work; however, the City gave her no peace. One of the Literacy India Team members found her in need and support of work, skill and livelihood. At Village Bajghera, under Indha, she started getting training and a stipend to learn and earn through Block Printing Unit. In no time, she gave all her best into it. The quality of her life changed for good. Radha says when she enters Literacy India Campus in Village Bajghera, she feels secured and peaceful, like many women artisans who have been deprived of many things in life. Becoming Indha Artisan has empowered her and gave her hope that she can change her life for the better with help and support.