There’s a new kind of school lurking in the horizon, one that gives more importance to practice than theory. The women and children of the villages of Borda and Mahabadia at the outskirts of Bhopal have been attending a special skills-set class after school every day. They are taught unique skills they can monetise on, to help earn for their families.
Image : ahambhumika.org
This skills-set class is the brainchild of an established NGO called Aham Bhumika which provides training to students in different branches of arts and crafts and then sell their hand-made products online. The various kinds of crafts they are taught are jute worked designs, paper quilling and crochet crafting on bags, greeting cards, blankets, pottery and more activities along these lines.
In this class of about 30 students, about 10 of them practice and learn ‘Gond Art’.
Subrat Goswami, a Bhopal resident, established ‘Aham Bhumika’ five years ago. Subrat realised that the conditions of excess poverty and fractured education system were core-lined. Thus, he set up Aham Bhumika with a small group of driven like-minded people who aim to bring about a betterment in the conditions of the women and children of the villages in Bhopal. Despite the fact that most of these volunteers have a full time job, they always manage to make time to visit and teach at these village-schools every weekend.
Subrat decided that theory and school books wouldn’t just do the trick, these students needed skills that they could use to create products to sell to the online market. Thus, he decided to tie up with another NGO, with whose assistance they were able to organise several classes that were conducted by three professional artisans from different parts of the state, to teach embroidery to a class of 35 women students.
“A supporter of the NGO had gifted 10 pairs of shoes to our children in the Borda village. We asked them to treat the shoes as their canvas and paint whatever they wished to. We mostly focus on the Gond style of tribal painting. These paintings stand apart for the bright and rich colours used,” says Subrat.
The students - women and children - produce their artwork and embroidery which is then sold at a good price on social media, by the efforts of the two NGOs. The amount received for these products are then collected and given to its rightful recipients.
The idea is to foster and encourage a sense of creativity among the women and children of these villages of Bhopal, and to make them realise that they can be the bread-earners of the family. Through these proceedings, they are also exposing them to the ways of the market - online and otherwise - so that they can understand how a natural sales and exchange system works.
The two NGOs involved in this initiative consisted of a wide array of professions ‑ from artists, to teachers, to housewives, to tourist guides, government employees and engineers. Goswami and the other members of the organisation are on the mission to raise and collect more funds for an improved activity room, so that they can use these to purchase more art supplies and raw materials for the students. They also wish to use these funds to hold and organise art workshops in and around Bhopal.