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Sewing for Survival

June 1st, 2021

Being with your family should be enjoyable where a sense of freedom can be experienced. As a parent, you should be able to spend quality time with your children without worries. You should be able to send them to school, without being concerned about their future.

Representative photos

For 35-year-old Guddi, she was not able to send her two children to school. Among other parents in Koderma, India, this is becoming a common problem amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of economic opportunities for families even before the pandemic has led to a reliance on mica mining. Further financial problems led to many parents’ decision to have their children support them in their daily labour. 

Despite Guddi and her husbands’ other sources of income such as selling wood fuel, medicinal plants, and self-cultivated vegetables, this was not enough and had to rely on mica scrap mining, with their son’s support. Guddi added, “Our survival was very painful because we made less from mica collection and during the lockdown, the frequency of selling got reduced and the rates offered by the traders dropped”. 

Supporting communities such as Guddi’s is a focus of Terre des Hommes Netherlands. By supporting the empowerment of parents through formation of “Self-Help Groups”, parents can find and/or strengthen their sources of livelihoods that would positively affect the well-being of children and enable them with a support system and means that would enhance their quality of life.

Guddi, along with other such 14 families in her village were organised to constitute a ‘Self Help Group’ for socio-economic empowerment, in coordination with existing Government institutions. She was enthusiastic about establishing a tailoring centre. She possesses great skills in sewing and had been aiming to improve her family’s income through this practice however, lack of finances was hindering this idea. “New found skills and seeking peer support from our self-help group shall keep us in good stead in ensuring the well being of my family in the future”, said Guddi. 

She was supported by TdH-NL’s project through her self-help group to establish a tailoring centre. This was a good proposition for her family as learning these new skills would be beneficial for women in the community. 

Furthermore, her husband was trained on  homestead vegetable cultivation which improved his agricultural practices for growing staple food crops (wheat, potato). Her son was also supported to continue his online academic sessions while her 5-year-old daughter was provided with home based early childhood education. 

Her family has found a gainful additional livelihood option and reduced their dependency on mica mining for their livelihood. Guddi and her family has an additional income through fees paid by trainees enrolled to learn sewing in the tailoring centre. Additionally, the family continues to earn from vegetable cultivation and expects a good harvest of wheat and potato.

“My family has found a new lease of life. I dream of providing my children with great opportunities so that they can lead prosperous lives", ended Guddi. 

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