Palaj: The two new hostel blocks of the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) are ready to buzz with students from the next semester, but there will be one more new thing here that will give it a special human touch. The curtains for the new hostels are stitched by the village women that are trained in stitching by NEEV under its skill development courses.
Eight village women from the Palaj and Basan villages, which are in close proximity to the IITGN campus, have joined in this project with mentoring support from NEEV, a community outreach program of the Institute. These women had already learnt basic stitching in NEEV’s Summer Skills Courses and they were provided further special training for professional stitching of the curtains. After the specialised training and handholding support from NEEV trainers, these women were able to stitch about 3 to 5 curtains per day on their own sewing machine, as per their convenience, and from the comfort of their home.
IITGN always strives to support and empower the neighbourhood communities with various programmes and initiatives. So far, these village women have prepared the first lot of about 219 curtains for the new hostels. Presently, the second lot of around 240 curtains is being stitched. IITGN provides them ready-to-stitch curtain material. The women are paid Rs 60 per curtain as stitching charges. This project has contributed towards a new kind of capacity building of rural women and has opened up livelihood opportunities for them; at the same time, it has also made them confident. These women will stitch curtains for the upcoming four new hostel blocks too.
Snehalben A Bihola, 27, is a homemaker from Palaj village and has studied upto 7th standard. Sharing her feelings she said, “I had learnt basic stitching course by NEEV sometime back and had started blouse and saree fall stitching work from home. In the beginning, I faced some difficulties, but our trainer Mamta ma’am taught us with patience. I have stitched about 25 curtains. After working with NEEV, I feel very good that I can also do something and earn myself. I plan to continue my stitching work.”
Usha Vaghela, a 21 year old high school pass out said, “After learning basic stitching course from NEEV, I joined an advanced course for blouse stitching, during which I came to know about this work opportunity. I made 9 curtains and also do other stitching work in my village. I have started earning around Rs. 1000/- per month and I feel good that I can shell out my expenses.”
Ambika B Vaghela, a 20 year old girl from Palaj village has stitched around 17 curtains for the new hostels. “I already knew basic stitching and had joined the advanced stitching course of NEEV. Now I have gained confidence and I am thinking to start working on my own.”
Another homemaker, 36 year old Bhavnaben Bihola, who had bought a sewing machine after doing two months of stitching course with NEEV said, “After learning to stitch, I started to take work from village women and earn around Rs. 500 to 1000/- per month, which has increased upto Rs. 2000/- after I joined this project work for IITGN. I have stitched about 33 curtains. I can now save and spend for my children’s education. This has also increased my confidence.”
NEEV Coordinator, Soumya Harish said, “We are committed to provide skills that equip grassroots women to earn their own livelihood and assist their families. When NEEV was approached for this project we were more than happy to connect the women trained by us. This is a great example of how IITGN proactively thinks about the welfare of the local community by providing such work to the immediate neighbourhood.”
Prof Madhu Vadali, Officiating Dean, Students Affairs, IITGN, who also provided motivation for this special initiative, said, “IIT Gandhinagar, through NEEV, has made tremendous progress in empowering women from the neighboring villages. This initiative will further their financial independence and add to their entrepreneurial growth.”