From Strength to Strength
Soon after her marriage, ill health had drained all of Laxmi’s financial resources. Even her husband could not find a solution to their problem. Seeing her little children deprived of food while she was given a larger share to sustain her, broke Laxmi emotionally. The doctors reported no improvement in her health and gave her 5 years to live.
It was during that time she joined Creative Handicrafts, thinking the work would at least help bring some financial stability to her home. Laxmi found she enjoyed the work and it also took her mind away from her problems. Slowly and steadily her health improved. Now she’s in-charge of one of the cooperatives. She continues to work at Creative Handicrafts because it gives her a sense of fulfillment. She proudly shows off the picture of her financially stable and happy family.
An Asli (true) Opportunity
Anjali Tapkire was one of the first women to join Creative Handicrafts. She has grown into a confident, independent woman. When asked about the reason for this, she says that growing with Creative Handicrafts is what has made her this way. Today, Anju didi (as she is fondly called) is in-charge of Asli Food.
Asli Food was set up as an alternative to the garment cooperatives, especially for those who could not pick up tailoring skills. The women working in Asli Food prepare and distribute lunch packets to people working in offices across Mumbai. Anjali was also the Chairperson of the Creative Handicrafts Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2011.
At Creative Handicrafts, each person is a stakeholder - it is not a master-servant relationship. Anjali has played a pivotal role in identifying many disadvantaged women and showing them into Creative Handicrafts so they too can become independent. She says it feels good to help other women.
Her family is now financially secure and her children are doing well. She recalls Sister Isabel saying that coming to Creative Handicrafts should, at the very least have therapeutic value for the women from all their life’s troubles. Anjali’s life illustrates that Creative Handicrafts has fulfilled Sister Isabel's dreams and more.
A Place for Companionship and Support
Sidamma was one of the first women to join Creative Handicrafts. In the initial days, Sister Isabel taught a few women to sew dolls which they went and sold outside schools and churches. Whatever money they made from this small sale was their profit. Creative Handicrafts has come a long way since then.
The major difficulty was in her personal life. Being a migrant she was unable to speak the local language. She also faced various atrocities at the hands of her husband as she was unable to bear him a son. At Creative Handicrafts, the women tried to understand her and help her as much as possible. The companionship, love and support they provided helped her get through those terrible days. She says for her Creative Handicrafts was not about being economically independent but more it was about having someone to care for her. Even in times when she was sick and there was no one from her own family to look after her, the other women and Sister Isabel were there like real family.
Sidamma is now a self-assured woman, not afraid to voice her opinion. She was in charge of one of the cooperatives and was on the Creative Handicrafts board till 2011. It is said that after every dark night, there's a brighter day. She's now living in the brighter days and is extremely grateful to all those who have stood by her.
Gudiya Yadav is from Uttar Pradesh, the northern part of India. She has 3 children. Her brother-in-laws used to beat her whenever she made any sort of mistake. At that time she did not feel supported by her husband and he too beat her. This physical violence began after her father’s death.
Once when her mother protested about her daughter being beaten, Gudiya’s brother-in-law chased her away with a dagger. Gudiya was very upset about this. She had an argument with her in-laws and told them that she could bear insults and humiliation but would not tolerate them doing or saying anything to her mother.
She left her in-laws house and came to stay with her husband in Mumbai where she began working with Creative Handicrafts. She is the first woman in her entire extended family to work - something she is very proud of. It has given her a lot of confidence, she is now a good tailor and is a role model for the younger generation in her family.
A Brighter Future For The Children
Beula Jose dreamt for many years that her children would get a good education. But her reality challenged this dream. She had reached a point where there was little money even for basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter. After she joined Creative Handicrafts, she began earning well and was able to fulfill her dream of educating her children.
Her son worked hard and graduated from a reputed engineering college in Mumbai. He is now working for a multi-national company developing computer software. Beula was able to meet the cost of his higher education with assistance from the education sponsorship programme and Creative Handicrafts’ savings and credit groups. Her son is very grateful for these opportunities and knows that without his mother’s efforts, his progress would not have been possible.