Sunday, April 30, 2017

Who Made My Clothes? Profile 6 of 6: Kavita's Story

Name: Kavita
Age: 26
Married: no
Children: no

Kavita is 26 years old and is the product developer at Sambhali trust. She was born in Punjab, a less conservative state in the north of India. Unlike most women working at our centre Kavita went to school for 12 years and studied at a Univeristy in Jodphur. She got her degree in fashion designing in 2013. At the end of 2012 Kavita joined Sambhali. At first she was working as a vocational trainer in a centre for women from the Muslim communities but after a year she started to work with the boutique when the project started with 10 ladies. She is now in charge of both our graduate centres, she is responsible for national and international orders, making samples, buying fabrics and training the women as well as teaching them new skills.

“I enjoy my job at Sambhali a lot. I learn everyday something new from the ladies and no day is the same. I like fashion, it's my passion.”

Kavita has one brother and one sister who is also working at Sambhali. Because the social pressure from both society and family in Punjab is significantly smaller, Kavita is not yet married. She has more freedom about deciding who her future-husband will be and has a more independent life than most women in Rajasthan.

“Punjab is more open minded. When I want to get married I can tell my parents and I can also say it if I like someone - it's not a big deal.”

Kavita knows that Rajasthan is a tough ground for women rights and is glad to be part of Sambhali to support the women and is happy about every little step which is achieved to come closer to the main goal of gender equality.

“Child marriage is very bad. The girls don't know what happens with them. And now they are only 18 years old and don't have dreams.”

Kavita's dream for the future is to become a famous fashion designer. She wouldn't want to work in an office but for the moment she wants to stay in Sambhali because she knows how important the trust is for the women.

The girls are so happy to work for Sambhali. It's also a big deal for their families because the girls are leaving the house from the morning until the evening. They like it because it's a safe place, when they come here they feel empowered and free. I like to see that they are getting more confident.”

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Who Made My Clothes? Profile 5 of 6: Nirmala's Story

Name: Nirmala
Age: 40
Married: yes
Children: 3 girls (21, 18, 23), 1 boy (16)

Nirmala is a very hardworking mother of four nearly grownup children. She wakes up every morning at 6am, gets fresh and brooms and cleans the house before making tea and preparing the breakfast for the family. Afterwards she continues with the work in the household, cooks lunch and rushes to work. When she comes back she is expected to cook dinner and undertake any other chores her husband requires. That has been her life for the past 25 years or more.

“I don't know how old I was when I got married. I was a young girl, I can't remember it.”

Nirmala never went to school as her family couldn’t afford to send her and all 4 of her sisters. She grew up in a little village where it is even harder for poor families to provide education for their children. The family had just enough money to fund her two brothers to finishing their 8th grade. Nirmala was married to her husband at such a young age that she can't even remember it. Child marriages are unfortunately still a common practice in rural areas of India, for poorer families, marrying their daughters means one less hungry mouth to feed.

“He is not beating me every day. He only beats me when he doesn't get what he wants or because something doesn't work out for him. Then he is frustrated and on those days, he beats me.”

Nirmalas husband is a taxi driver and has a bad temper. She is a victim of domestic violence as are many women in India. As Nirmala can't read or write, she is dependent on her husband and has very little self-confidence. Nine years ago, her eldest daughter worked at Sambhali alongside going to school, but it was too much pressure for her and she asked Nirmala to take over her space at the trust. Nirmala was very happy about the opportunity but her husband didn't like the idea of her leaving the house. Eventually he agreed, possibly because of the second income and only because there are no men allowed in the centre.

“I was very scared when I hold scissors the first time, everything was new for me and I was scared to do something wrong.”

Nirmala enjoys sewing and her self-confidence has grown immensely since joining the trust. In the beginning, she was very shy and struggled to make friends with the other workers, but now she is very happy and enjoys teaching new women in the centre. Nirmala still wants to improve her skills and hopes to stay at Sambhali for many more years.

“I want all my children to finish their school and go to University. Education is very important and it will make them more confident and independent.”


For Nirmala as a loving mother the future of her children is the highest priority. She hopes that they'll all get the chance to go to University and find good jobs afterwards. If Nirmala would have one wish for herself, it would be to have her own shop one day where she can sell the clothes she makes.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Who Made My Clothes? Profile 4 of 6: Rita's Story

Name: Rita
Age: 48
Married: Yes, for 31 years
Children: No children

“I have been sewing since I was a young girl, I learned it in school and I always liked it very much.”

Ritas family comes from Gujarat, she was born and spent her childhood there until at 17 she was married and moved in with her husband’s family in Jodphur. Gujarat is more developed than Rajasthan and it is more common for girls to go school, even 40 years ago when Rita was a student. She finished the 12th grade and dreamt about becoming a nurse, unfortunately the nursing-college was too far away and her father didn't let her go.

“I am not sad that I am not a nurse. I like teaching the other girls at Sambhali because I have a lot of experience.”

Rita visits her family once a year for a couple of days, but since the day of the marriage she has belonged to her husband and his family. In India, a young girl is considered to be under the protection of her father, and when married under the control of her husband. A woman is always dependent on a man, but with Rita’s educational background, her sewing skills and job experience she is able to be more independent than the average woman in Rajasthan.

“I am happy to work at Sambhali, I like talking to the volunteers, even though I don't understand everything, but I like to talk to them.”

Before Rita joined the Graduate Sewing Centre 9 years ago she was already able sew, making an income as a tailor. She worked from home and sold the products she made. She was very happy when she started to work at Sambhali because she is a very social person, she enjoys chatting with the other women and likes to learn new things every day. Rita is proud that she is making products for the Sambhali-boutique and her favourite items are the table-runners.

“I wish for my sister’s daughter that she will have good job and a good husband in the future. I want her to have an easy life and to become a strong woman.”

Due to complications Rita and her husband who is a painter don't have children themselves. However, Rita has a very good relationship with her sister and her biggest wish is that her niece will be able to get a good education and be able to be independent. For herself Rita hopes to stay for a long time in Sambhali because she enjoys every day and is very happy.