Stree Shakti (Women Power) in Purkal

7 Apr

“There are some people you meet who inspire you to do something meaningful in your lives; and then there are some people you meet who just inspire you to make your life more meaningful”.

On a recent trip to Dehra Doon I happened to meet someone who inspires you to make your life more meaningful and I just had to write about her and Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti. I happened to discover this place through my friend Archana’s blog – Talking Qalam ‘s blog post One Thing Leads to Another. This got me interested in this place and as I was planning to be in Dehra Doon for a work related trip, I added this to my visit list.

Nestled amongst beautiful hills, Stree Shakti is a women empowerment scheme based in a small village called Purkal near Dehra Doon where they teach local village women the skill sets to create hand-made quilts and patch work handicrafts. They have an entire complex in Purkal where they have a learning and production centre for women, a small display centre that retails their creations and an early childhood development centre for their kids.

The display centre, Shtree Shakti, Purkal

The display centre, Shtree Shakti, Purkal

A glimpse of the quilts, Stree Shakti, Purkal

A glimpse of the quilts, Stree Shakti, Purkal

We reached here one mid afternoon (after quite a few wrong turns, asking people for directions and a steep walk down) and met Mrs Swamy and her amazing team, who showed us around and answered our numerous questions.

The history of this place is quite interesting. More than a decade ago, Mrs Swamy and her husband decided to bid adieu to city life and move to the small village of Purkal. Mrs Swamy,  wanted to start some initiative to help the local women gain employment and financial independence, and with this goal in mind she started teaching these women how to make local Indian snacks and then selling the same in nearby cities. However this venture came with its fair share of challenges because of which she had to wind it. Since she had always been interested in craft and creative projects, she decided to teach one woman the art of quilting and patchwork. Initially she just gifted these creations to her friends and family members, and through this network they started receiving orders and the venture took off. Since then, there has been no looking back and today this venture employs around 130 women across 2 centers.

The starting point of the creations

The starting point of the creations

The treasure box. Not even a scrap is wasted/

The treasure box. Not even a scrap is wasted

This is a social venture and with their own unique model. They provide an initial loan to the women to make their creations and they then help them sell it. Post the sale all proceeds are shared with the women, who return the initial loan and a small share of the profit to the Samiti; to help the Samiti with their expenses and training of new women. All new trainees are also given a small stipend. Each creation is unique and comes with a signature and a picture of the artisan who created it.

The new trainees, Stree Shakti, Purkal

The new trainees, Stree Shakti, Purkal

They also have an early childhood development centre for the kids of the women who come here to quilt. These kids receive primary education and social development here and their self-confidence is truly amazing.

The kids of the Early Childhood Development Centre, Purkal

The kids of the Early Childhood Development Centre, Purkal

Today Stree Shakti’s products range across a wide variety of quilts (for adults and kids), stoles, bags, cushion covers, tea cozies, hand bag covers and much much more. Needless to say the shopaholic in me went berserk and bought a lot of things. 🙂

A kiddie quilt. I love these animal motifs :)

A kiddie quilt. I love these animal motifs 🙂

The gorgeous quilts, Stree Shakti Purkal

The gorgeous quilts, Stree Shakti Purkal

The women at work on another quilt

The women at work on another quilt

I especially loved their animal motifs 🙂

The roosters

The roosters

The monkey

The monkey

The elephant

The elephant

The frog

The frog

But more than the shopping, this entire initiative really inspired me that even if one individual decides, then they can make quite a difference to a lot of lives around them.

You can read more on them and view their products online on www.purkalstreeshakti.org. If you happen to be in Dehra Doon then please take some time and visit them. It’s a beautiful world of its own. 🙂

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34 Responses to “Stree Shakti (Women Power) in Purkal”

  1. Talking Qalam April 7, 2013 at 11:58 #

    Aww 🙂 Thanks Snig! Am so glad you went there.
    Btw the monkey quilt is SO cute! 🙂

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 9, 2013 at 12:24 #

      Thanks for introducing me to this place… I loved the monkey and the frog 🙂

      Like

  2. Diane Mawr April 7, 2013 at 17:21 #

    Such a beautiful post! I am planning a trip to Guatemala in the fall with some other women to teach sewing for the same reason, to help local women have an income producing skill. This post is so inspiring, and the quilts are gorgeous! Thank you for posting! Diane

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 9, 2013 at 12:26 #

      Thanks Diane. I look forward to following your posts on your trip and success with this venture in Guatemala. All the best for this. 🙂

      Like

  3. somethingboutrenes April 8, 2013 at 05:34 #

    Hi there! Thank you for liking my post! You made my day! Your blog is awesome and very beautifully written. Will be following your blog!

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 9, 2013 at 12:29 #

      Thanks somethingboutrenes for the lovely words about my blog 🙂

      Like

  4. myblissonearth April 8, 2013 at 08:34 #

    What a great post. I visited Dehra Dun last year but sadly didn’t come across Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti. I wish I had!

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 9, 2013 at 12:31 #

      Thanks. I also just discovered this beautiful place and hope to visit it again soon 🙂

      Like

  5. Jammie April 9, 2013 at 10:32 #

    What beautiful work is being done — for and by the women, and their children. Thanks for sharing this story!

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 9, 2013 at 12:32 #

      Thanks Jammie. This place is truly wonderful and inspiring 🙂

      Like

  6. lahacienda April 9, 2013 at 20:17 #

    Amazing what people can do when they come together!

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 10, 2013 at 15:50 #

      Thats so true. All it needs is an idea and hard work 🙂

      Like

  7. Annie's Place April 9, 2013 at 22:18 #

    I enjoyed reading this post. I love the quilts.

    Like

  8. Rosemarie April 10, 2013 at 00:19 #

    Thank you for stopping by my Europe blog.

    Like

  9. ellaspottiswood April 10, 2013 at 03:28 #

    Absolutely beautiful pictures, the colours are amazing! Also really well thought out piece and loved you’re style if writing 🙂

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 10, 2013 at 15:59 #

      Thank you so much. Sincerely appreciate the kind words 🙂

      Like

  10. janeanddavid April 10, 2013 at 17:45 #

    Beautiful quilts! I’m glad that this project exists for these women. The children, though, are the best part! They are beautiful, too, and so full of hope!

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 11, 2013 at 19:54 #

      These kids were so adorable and I hope to spend more time with them on my next trip here 🙂

      Like

  11. The Travelbunny April 10, 2013 at 22:50 #

    Those quilts are so intricate and beautifully made 🙂

    Like

  12. SchmidleysScribbling April 12, 2013 at 20:52 #

    Beautiful. I love empowered women. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Dianne

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 16, 2013 at 16:58 #

      Thanks Dianne for visiting my blog and the kind words 🙂

      Like

  13. Nikhil Chandra April 13, 2013 at 05:16 #

    Kudos to Mrs Swamy for empowering so many and thanks to you that we know about it. It’s a beautiful post supported by great photos.

    Like

  14. emingtonemsworthy April 17, 2013 at 10:03 #

    Thank you for liking my post! 🙂 I have been reading through your blog and it is very interesting 🙂 I myself am going this week to Tanzania to work with women’s groups there and it is interesting to read about other initiatives.

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 17, 2013 at 14:52 #

      Thanks for visiting my blog and I look forward to reading more about your travels and experiences in Tanzania. I really want to visit this part of the world but have not had the oppertunity yet.

      Like

  15. luluandthemoon April 21, 2013 at 03:26 #

    Thank you for liking my post. I have been reading through your blog and was particularly interested in this post when I saw the title! I’m all for empowering women. My daughter has a store here in Canada that sells fairly traded global handicrafts. I will definitely lead her to their website. My daughter also travels to India and may find an occasion to visit the collective.

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 21, 2013 at 13:15 #

      Thanks a ton for visiting my blog and the kind words. I also sincerely appreciate your introducing Stree Shakti to your daughter and exploring potential business opportunities for them in Canada. In case fair trade is of interest you can also check out Koonik for baby safe organic products at http://koonik.com/welcome.html. They have most amazing toys for kids. 🙂

      Like

      • luluandthemoon April 21, 2013 at 18:39 #

        Thanks for this. I will pass on the websites to my daughter and will continue to follow your adventures. Cheers!

        Like

      • getsetandgo April 21, 2013 at 19:36 #

        Thanks 🙂

        Like

  16. Fae's Twist & Tango April 21, 2013 at 04:00 #

    – I liked your opening sentence. 😉
    – My friend’s Mom was a quilter, and once I hung out with her when she was shopping for scrap fabrics. I really do appreciate the work put into these masterpieces.
    – I love the children with their fun uniform.

    Like

    • getsetandgo April 21, 2013 at 13:18 #

      Thanks Fae. If you ever find yourself in India, then do visit them. The children were so fantastic and despite being in such a rural district, they were uber confident and spoke perfect english.

      Like

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