An Uplifting Story in Every Stitch

“Life is like that – one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

32 year old Karthik is a polio survivor. He contracted polio as a child and almost lost the use of his legs. He can stand only with support. The disability certificate given by the doctor at the District Hospital, certifies him as 65% loco-motor disabled. Although Karthik’s legs are not of much use, he is very skilled in embroidery. Karthik worked in saree embroidery companies in Tirupathi, where skilled embroiderers are in demand. Tirupathi being 2 hours away from home he would stay there and come home only on Sundays and weekends. The job was well paying. He earned on an average Rs 600/- day. But staying away from home meant expenditure on food and accommodation and of course being away from family.

Karthik embroiders a saaree
Karthik embroiders a saaree

When Karthik heard about the micro-credit scheme from Rejuvenate India Movement (RIM), he applied for it. With the Rs 8000 interest free loan, he bought an embroidery frame and the necessary accessories. Having worked in Tirupathi for over 5 years he has many contacts in the embroidery companies. He drives down on his three-wheel scooter to Tirupathi once a week and gets orders and material, which he returns during the next visit. Now that he is at home, his productivity is much higher. He earns approximately Rs 1000/- per day and gets work for about 15 days a month. An enterprising man, Karthik has also started growing flowers on the small patch of land next to his house. His wife now sells these flowers in Tiruvalur town, supplementing their income.

Sudgadhi embroiders a saaree while her son sits next to her
Sudgadhi embroiders a saaree while her son sits next to her

27 year old Sugandhi is a mother of two children, 9 year old Arun and 7 year old Mahesh. Arun has been diagnosed with 80% mental retardation but the village school does not have the teachers or the resources to teach students like Arun. Sugandhi and her husband are skilled in embroidering on sarees. Sugandhi’s husband works at Vijayawada in one of the many embroidery companies, earning Rs 700/day. Like most children with mental or developmental challenges, Arun requires exceptional levels of care. Although skilled and employable, Sugandhi could not take on full time employment as she had to be at home to take care of Arun. She worked part-time in a nearby company, embroidering sarees, leaving Arun at home all alone. Constantly worried about his safety, she would drop in several times during the work hours to check on him. She would earn a meagre Rs 160/day on the days she managed to leave Arun. With the interest-free loan of Rs 8000/- Sugandhi bought an embroidery frame and raw material. Her husband gets the orders from Vijayawada and sends sarees every month with fellow villagers visiting their families. Sugandhi works on the saree on her new frame, installed in her house. Arun often watches her while she works. A saree could take her anything from 6 days to 15 days to complete, based on the intricacy of the design. Once complete, she sends the saree back with another visiting villager. Today Sugandhi earns approximately Rs 300 per day and she can do this in the comfort of her own home, without the guilt and anxiety of leaving her child unattended. The work that her husband sends her keeps her occupied for 20-22 days a month.

It has been three months since Karthik and Sugandhi got their loans. They have repaid 2 installments of Rs 500/- per month. Persons with disability and their families all too frequently experience rejection, stigma, and numerous barriers. Children with mental or developmental impairment often require exceptional levels of care. Employable members of such families, especially mothers not only have greater demands on their time for home care of the disabled child, but are also not able to leave their homes to work. Many have experienced unimaginable situations, only to be turned away repeatedly when seeking help. It takes enormous courage to face life with a smile.

The Malandur village of Thiravalur district has over 20 families of Persons with Disability (PwD) who are skilled in embroidery. We are delighted to report that RIM’s exciting new initiative aims to support these 20 families in Malandur village in a sustainable manner. The initiative provides an interest free loan of Rs 8000/- to each family of a PwD to buy an embroidery frame and accessories. By supporting their creative and artistic talents we provide them an opportunity to enhance their income. The money is returned in installments into a revolving fund of a community based organization of Persons with Disabilities. This revolving fund will be used to support other such income generation activities.

Please spread the word to anyone who you believe may be interested in supporting this initiative.

All they need is a little help, a little hope and someone to believe in them.

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