Rural women in Shahjahanpur are changing their lives, one straw at a time – Gaonconnection

Hathura Bujurg (Shahjahanpur), Uttar Pradesh

The village of Hathura Bujurg looks like hundreds of other villages in Uttar Pradesh. Dusty, cramped, not too clean and with many of its inhabitants living in abject poverty. But, in the midst of all this misery, there is hope.

About twenty women got together and formed a self-help group (SHG) called Corona Samuh (as it was formed in August 2020, the year of the pandemic) and dedicate several hours a day to it after completing their tasks. housewives. to an activity that brings them much-needed income in difficult times.

Read also: World Bamboo Day: while protecting the environment, “green gold” also empowers rural women

Bamboo straws have become an unlikely source of income for these women in Hathura Bujurg in Bhaval Khera block, Shahjahanpur, about 180 kilometers from the state capital Lucknow.

Women also make slippers, baskets, planters, etc., with both bamboo and khus (a natural and fragrant herb).

“I manage to keep aside three hours a day to do chappals, dolls, hats, etc. Said Yasmin, a 26-year-old resident of Hathaura Bujurg. Gaon connection. “If I can devote three hours to this job, then I earn up to one hundred and fifty rupees a day for it,” she added. Her husband, Abid Hasan, is a rickshaw driver.

A basket made by the women of the self-help group.

Homework for rural women

This group of 20 women is helped by social worker Sakshi Singh, a graduate of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who started a project through her non-profit organization Green Future Collective based in Shahjahanpur.

“These women mainly make bamboo straws which are easy to make and don’t require a lot of skill. If they can save the time, they can easily earn around four hundred and fifty rupees a day, ”Sakshi said. Gaon connection. His association provides the group with raw materials and helps market the finished products.

The women of Corona Samuh SHG are now on the right track to earn a living without leaving their home.

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“We want to contribute to the family income. And Sakshi Have I got came into our lives at the right time, ”said Noor Bano, a member of the group. Gaon connection. Noor’s husband, Dilshad, is a daily laborer.

“When we had raw materials to work with, we started doing things with them, even though we had no training,” said the 28-year-old. “We are very poor women and sometimes we can’t even afford to buy the materials to make these things. A little more organization and streamlining would help us a lot, ”added Noor.

The women Gaon connection talked to all said they were very poor. They lived a day-to-day existence. “We are ready to work hard and apply ourselves at work so that our products sell better and we can earn more,” Noor reiterated.

According to her, their income depended on the quality of the items they made from bamboo and khus. “If they are doing well, they sell for more, if not not,” she explained.

Read also: 6,684 dwellings connected to all-season roads; 5.9 million houses completed under Awaas Yojana in 2019-21: Ministry of Rural Development

These products are made from environmentally friendly bamboo and khus.

“We want to work hard”

“We are all members of SHG and we innovate, experiment and create new things,” said Kusum Latha. Gaon connection. The 60-year-old woman, who brought the village women together to form the SHG, hoped the women would receive appropriate training to hone their skills and improve their incomes.

“The women are very motivated because some of the things they made have already sold and they received the money for them,” Kusum said.

It is difficult for some of these women to devote even a few hours to this extra work, they said. But they are determined to stick to it and it is something they can do in the safety and comfort of their own homes, without going out, said Sakshi, who trains these rural women.

Jaitun Nisha, 40, added that they are not afraid of hard work. She said she made hats and shoes and earned around 150 rupees a day, depending on production. Jaitun’s husband, Sartaj, works on construction sites.

These women are on the verge of earning a living without leaving their homes.

Ecological products

“Bamboo is one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly plants. It contributes nearly thirty-three percent more oxygen to the environment than other trees, ”said Sakshi of Green Future Collective. The Collective focuses on creating products that respect the environment and do not damage the planet.

The straws the women of Shahjahanpur make are priced at Rs 125 for a set of four, but at the moment they are selling for Rs 100 as a promotional offer, Sakshi said. Gaon connection. The straws come in three different sizes, she said, and they are reusable.

Also read: Self-help groups in Uttar Pradesh learn to use cell phone as marketing tool

“The baskets cost between two hundred and fifty rupees and six hundred and fifty rupees. The chappalThey are at a fixed rate of three hundred and fifty rupees, ”she added.

While currently Green Future Collective sources bamboo from northeastern Assam, Sakshi is in talks with farmers in Uttar Pradesh to start growing the herb. The khus, she said, came from Malihabad, Shahjahanpur.

Meanwhile, the effort is underway to commercialize the straws. “We promote them and market them to restaurants, hotels and businesses in top-tier cities. We are confident that sales will increase, ”Sakshi said.

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