MANT: Empowering tribal girls through providing sustainable livelihood

Goal 1 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals focuses on eradicating extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030 is a pivotal goal of 2030. India is also a signatory to the UN Goals and has been working towards the same. Our government has come up with multiple schemes to support the same and work towards bringing more people above the poverty line. Several organisations are also working on the same to help India achieve its UN Goals.

Manbhum Ananda Ashram Nityananda Trust established in 1960 is one such example. They have been working in the field of basic education, health improvement, community media, and livelihood development of marginalized sections from the ten most deprived districts of West Bengal, India.

The vision of the Trust entails the empowerment of these socially discriminated or marginalized people in rural India will bring about the development of our country as a whole.

Their key objectives include -improving the economic level of the lower strata by providing support in ecological agricultural and skill-building programs; To encourage self-reliance by guiding people to manage such programs on their own using the local resources and stocks in a sustainable manner; To provide help during natural calamities and during distress.

Keeping the above in mind, about half a decade back, a fabric production centre with 25 tribal girls was installed at the Ranibandh Block of Bankura. As the role of Social Enterprise dawned upon the Trust functionaries, they shifted the centre from Bankura to Purulia. The driving force behind that was that the tribal girls of Purulia traditionally decorated the walls of the homes with traditional and attractive artistic designs that can be replicated in our produce. The Prantik Handloom Cluster was formed with 378 tribal women as volunteers. The optimum cost to run the centre was met by the Trust with considerable difficulties. However, last year, the Ministry of MSME, along with the Ministry of Textile, and the Government of India, came forward to promote the cause. The Trust contributed 2 bighas of land and a spacious common facility centre has been built.

Looms along with industrial machinery have been set up. Production started off late. But in the interregnum, they have produced materials such as sari and clothes. Last year they were contacted by TRIFED, and it agreed to sell the dress materials prepared by the tribal girls.

A tribal team went to Ahmedabad to represent them at a national fair. Another team went to Rourkela with the same intention. It is a dream come true! The girls who have never been to the district headquarters and never speak out their minds, and Lo! they have gone too far off places beaming with pleasure and pride. The magic is that the girls have never seen looms, not to speak of using them. Now almost 60 girls have been weaving clothes with ease. They have learned the method without ever getting a square allowance as we could ill-afford that. However, they have started earning a considerable amount of money as the sale of products is initiated. Another USP that deserves mention is that the girls have adopted and learned the process of natural dyeing by using locally available flowers and the like. The products are 100% cotton made, and they have been following a sustainable fashion approach in a strict manner. This is the story of the tribal women who dealt with thousands of odds but adopted a never say die attitude and gradually became role models for others. 




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