“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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
I especially loved their animal motifs 🙂
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. 🙂