The Artisans at TARA Projects celebrated the World Fair Trade Day by forming a Human Chain to support the #Agent for Change Campaign. The Agents of change also emphasized on the point that Fair Trade is key to No Poverty.
Meet our craftsman from our member, Upasana Design Studio, based in Chennai, sharing the story of his life.
Hailing from Sanjivinagar, I studied D.F.Tech (Diploma in Film making). I always had an interest in tailoring, though I treated that as a hobby. In time, I decided to pursue a career in tailoring. Before joining Upasana, I was working in Chennai for 18 years as a tailor. I joined Upasana in October 2014. I love working at Upasana since there is a wide range of styles and experimenting that happens here, and my team trusts me with my work. I support my family with the salary I earn at Upasana.
Roopa Mehta is the CEO of Sasha Association for Craft Producers (“Sasha”) and the Secretary of Sarba Shanti Ayog (SSA) its associate development organisation. Sasha/SSA provides business support inputs and market access for sustainable livelihoods to artisan groups based largely in rural communities and semi urban areas.
Highly dedicated Roopa Mehta is on the Board of Sadhna, the handicrafts and income augmentation programme of Seva Mandir, Udaipur, the Managing Trustee of Ruro Agro Services Association, a registered trust which develops natural agro based products, trains producers and identify suitable markets and on the Board of All India Artisans and Craft persons Association (AIACA). She is also on the Board of the World Fair Trade Organisation.
Roopa Mehta is an MBA from Delhi University with further professional qualifications in Social Communication. In the earlier part of her professional career, Mrs. Mehta worked in hospitality and merchandising sector and she was the Chief Executive Officer of a renowned textiles manufacturing & retailing company before joining Sasha.
With a good school bag and a family background, Irani was dreaming to be a scientist pursuing Physics as a Major when an early arranged marriage brought a sudden end to her dreams. Fifty years ago when social situation was extremely conservative, the bad marriage brought her down the streets.
With nothing but herself- not even her very young son, armed with her self-dignity and many skills in working with both hands, Irani decided to fight all odds and get on her own feet. She began working closely with late Subhashini Kohli, she helped Sarba Shanti Ayog at its initial stage get strong on producer and product base.
Then she moved on and started working as an international consultant to INGOs, BINGOs and FTOs. Her focus has always been helping women to be economically self-sufficient. Her own personal experience taught her that a woman can only have her identity and independence if she is economically self-sufficient. Helping women to produce beautiful handicrafts, to have their own poultry, piggery, kitchen garden to handmade fishing net, she has done it all! During the same period she single handedly fought the court battle for divorce and won it after seven years! She was the first client of Socio Legal Aid Research Aid and Training Centre and she is ever grateful to its Director, Manabendra Mondal.
In the late 80s from an assignment from Swiss Development Corporation, Craft Resource Center was born. An organisation which started from one and a half personnel and two producers, is a totally self sufficient after 26 years today with a turnover of two million dollars. She always believes that a human life needs three basic support- income, health and education and in that order. “If you show the people how to get a secured income you can motivate them to take care of their health and education. I believe that any social change that we wish to bring in must come from the bottom to the top and not the reverse”- signs off Irani.
Rashmi Dhariwal is endowed with a multifaceted personality of an entrepreneur and a social activist. An engineer by education, she runs a Social Enterprise named “SETU-The Bridge To Artisans” and a non-profit charitable organization named “SETU-Society”.
Founder and CEO, “SETU-The Bridge To Artisans” (Exporters of Fair Trade, handmade & sustainable Products), she is a social enterprise, working for upliftment of marginalized artisans. Today she is making a difference in the life of over 20,000 artisans, with over 40 groups and in 17 states in India.
She is presently holding the position of President, at SETU-Society, a non- Profit charitable organization registered under the Societies registration act of 1860 India.
In her fray towards making the world a better place where people can live with equality, dignity and self-sustainability, she laid the foundation of SETU- Society. Established with the basic aim of serving humanity & promoting self-sustainability; love, peace and equality are the words which define SETU.
She is marking the difference by her continuous efforts, to see a change in the world. She is associated with Amar Jyoti charitable Trust also, which works for serving persons with disabilities. She is a dynamic personality, who plays the role of a special lecturer also at many MBA & Design Institutes.
She works with a mission to provide the development to the underprivileged and marginalized artisan groups, while ensuring environment sustainability.
Ms Suman is a pioneer in the struggle to end child labor and trafficking in India. She has worked for more than 25 years for the liberation of child laborers and their empowerment. She believes Right to Food for all is a basic human right and to be free from hunger and malnourishment is the first step towards empowerment. She submitted a report in 2014 to CEDAW committee on Right to Food of Women in India. She lays stress on giving importance to gender aspects of food security. She believes women’s economic and social empowerment not only improves intra-household food distribution and health related matters but also improves the working of food and nutrition programmes. She also works extensively with migrant communities in Delhi for their socio-economic empowerment ensuring their rights are not violated.
Ms Suman envisages a dream of child friendly society free of child labour and exploitation. With the aimof socio-economic empowerment of communities, she providesproducer communities in parts of UP, Delhi, Jharkhand and Bihar with sustainable alternative income generating opportunities through Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Fair Trade. She helps in the production and marketing of goods.She is the Vice-president of FIAN in India. She established one of its kind transit rehabilitation centers in Delhi in 1990 for released bonded and trafficked children, appreciated widely by ILO and UNICEF in 1995. She is a member of Fair Trade Forum-India and has been awarded Rotary Club’s prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship and Antigone Awards in 2005 and 2015 respectively.
Chinni Swamy moved into PURKAL VILLAGE in the Himalayan foothills in 2001. Seeing the deplorable condition of women in the area she decided to empower them. A training programme was started teaching them patch work, applique and quilting. Soon the women formed themselves into self help groups. PURKAL Stree Shakti Samiti was registered in 2010. It now supports 180 women working from 3 centers. They make beautiful quilts, jackets, cushion covers, bags and pouches which are much appreciated by customers in India and abroad.
The artisans not only earn a comfortable livelihood but have also gained in confidence, acquired leadership and business skills and look forward to running their enterprise themselves.\