Over 40 kilometres away from Jaipur, Manpura village is situated. Around 100 women in these villages are self-employed, and their source of income depends on weaving. This has been made possible by the efforts of the Jaipur Rugs Foundation, a not-for- profit organization, which has been working to empower women from the underprivileged community.
Started in 1978 by Nand Kishore Chaudhary, a renowned entrepreneur and social innovator, the vision of this foundation is to enable a society of equality, justice, and peace through opportunities and socio-economic development. He firmly believes that connecting with weavers on- the ground has played a crucial role in its success.
The founder, N K Chaudhary, recalls starting it with just 2 looms, 9 weavers from a nearby village and most importantly his 'passion' for weaving. Over the past four decades, the foundation has successfully grown multifold and helped many women to become self-reliant with weaving.
The founder of Jaipur Rugs Foundation, Nand Kishore Chaudhary, along with the weavers
The Story Of Shanti Devi- A Skilled Weaver And Bunkar Sakhi
Shanti Devi leads around 100 women in the village in order to get them skilled in weaving. Most of the women involved had hardly any source of income, but today they can earn their livelihood and sustain themselves and their families through weaving. As a child bride, Shanti Devi never got the opportunity to study.
After facing abuse and toxicity in her marriage, she returned to her village with her children. Although the circumstances in her life made her shoulder responsibilities at an early- age and she was hesitant initially to go beyond the confines of her home until she met Bhaisaab ( N K Chaudhary, founder of Jaipur Rugs Foundation).
Women weaving on the loom to complete the process of making carpet
"When I left my husband and came back with my children, I was clueless about what I was going to do next. That phase of life was difficult for me. Once Bhaisaab came to my village, he asked me to take up weaving. I was doubtful whether it would work out or not since I had never even stepped out in the village without my face covered in a veil. But I was given training through the foundation, and I can proudly say that I have not only learnt the skill of weaving but also gained the confidence to live my life independently, " shares Shanti Devi in a conversation with The Logical Indian.
Today, she is in charge of two centres in the village where she works as a trainer. Known as Bunker Sakhi, she leads the women in the village and helps them find solutions to the problems that they face. With her craftmanship, she manages more than 60 looms and has become an inspiration for many in her village.
One of weavers impacted through the intervention of Jaipur Rugs Foundation
Mission Of Jaipur Rugs Foundation: Weaving Rugs & Smiles
At present, the foundation is acting as an enabler of employment in 102 villages, 7 blocks and 5 districts in 5 states in the country. With the intervention of the Jaipur Rugs Foundation, women who did not have any source of livelihood are skilled in the craftmanship of weaving and are knotting their independence on the loom. The efforts of the foundation have received recognition at the national and international level as well, and it has received many prestigious awards related to the design and carpet industry.
"Any social enterprise which starts to impact people on the ground needs to first start with building personal connections with them. In my journey, I have seen that interacting with weavers has made them feel more connected with the vision and mission of our foundation. Through the work of the foundation, we have not only taught them the skill of weaving but have developed their abilities so that they can sustain it on their own. We also have a collection named 'Manchaha' which means 'Expression Of Heart' in which they can weave their own designs," shares N K Chaudhary while speaking with The Logical Indian.
Women from the weaver community in Manpura village, Jaipur
Initiatives Started For Betterment Of Weaving Community
In order to take care of the weavers, the foundation has started multiple initiatives such as Education Programme, Health check-ups and government linkages. Under education programme, marginalised women in remote villages are taught basic functional literacy. Health camps of Jaipur Rugs Foundation include regular health camps and eye check-up programs for artisans. Apart from this, through government linkages, the artisans are provided access to social welfare schemes run by the government.
Before the foundation's intervention in villages, the artisans were paid significantly less by the middlemen. Now, not only the price paid on a per day basis by the foundation is higher, they are given free training, looms, and other advantages through various programmes run by the foundation. The foundation has even taken weaving behind bars. Prison inmates are provided with the loom where they can weave their designs and, in this way, they get a medium to express their inner emotions.
Weavers from Jaipur Rugs Foundation sitting by the loom where weaving is done
The patterns to be knitted on the carpet are prepared by designers and given in a print format to artisans. They plan to experiment and bring in new designs in their collections which are bold yet simplistic in terms with the present-day times.
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