ShahTaj Khan/Ratnagiri (Maharashtra)
A small help can transform the lives of single women, who either lost their husbands or got a divorce and come from poor backgrounds with no source of earning their livelihood.
Some 25 such women are today on the way to becoming self-reliant and lives a life of dignity thanks to the efforts of some Samaritans and NGOs, who have set up a center in Chiplun town in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district.
It all started with setting up Alharim Kitchen and Alharim Tailoring organizations in a local commercial complex. The initiative was launched by some businessmen, doctors, and NGOs.
At this center, women who know sewing, and embroidery use their skills to stitch school uniforms and make dolls, pillow covers, cloth bags, scarves, etc.
Women working at Alharim Tailoring center
Alharim provides them with sewing machines, raw materials, and also work orders and delivery of their finished products.
At Alharim Kitchen, women prepare vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis for clients who prefer the taste of homemade food. Ibrahim Wahab Bobre and his associates are in charge of getting orders, buying ingredients, and supplying the food.
Ibrahim told Awaz-the Voice that Alharim kitchen is a joint venture among individuals and the women who need help to become financially independent. Women earn an income of Rs 4,000 to 5,000 per month. he says the organization keeps reserve funds for at least three months so that even if orders fall, the women are paid their salaries.
With this small beginning that happened because of the vast devastation caused by massive rains in the Konkan region, the consortium is all set to start regular cooking courses for these and other women from next month. The three and six-month courses will make them experts in their respective fields.
They will be provided assistance to set up their business. Ibrahim says that if those who wish could continue to work at the center. “We will take responsibility for getting the orders and delivering the finished goods to the market,” he said.
He says he works with the philosophical belief that “one day the clouds will fall as rain to make the sky clear and sun to shine."
Women cooking at Alharim Kitchen
Though this initiative is new, Alharim is getting support from all around. On one hand, more women are shedding inhibitions and seeking help and on the other hand, people are giving orders to Alharim to support them.
Early morning, the gas stoves are lit and the women's team gets involved in preparing the delicious food the sound of the sewing machines brings a smile to their faces.