Mumbai: On Saturday, Sangeetaben Atara took a break from making incense sticks herself. Instead, she was on the teacher’s seat educating popular people from the city on how to make them during an event held by Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care (SLRC) in Dadar.
“I feel really nice about it,” said an elated Atara, a tribal from Bilpudi, Gujarat who taught the basics of incense making to the likes of Dr Aditi Govitrikar, supermodel and physician, Neha Ranglani, nutritionist and health coach, Ruchi Bharani who is content head at Rajshri Food and Sapna Shroff, head of Raj Uphaar.
Sangeetaben, her namesake Sangeetaben Hanvit, Payalben Kokni and Chayaben Chaudhary were among the tribals from different villages of Gujarat in city to promote the work they do for ‘Raj Uphaar’.
During the COVID-19 crisis, many lost their jobs and several families lost their dear ones who were also the sole breadwinners. The NGO around that time launched the initiative ‘Raj Uphaar’, to support underprivileged rural women to attain self-reliance and financial independence, through end-to-end support, skill training and employment opportunities.
Over 200 rural women were empowered to oversee the entire production chain, ranging from manufacturing to packaging of products in which more than 100 desserts, snacks, fragrances, handicraft and utility products are made available across the world through centers, urban women’s showing of sorority and online sales.
“My husband lost his job during COVID and my son was ailing too. That is when I thought of working like my neighbours for some monetary support,” said Atara. While Atara excelled in incense, learnt the ropes and grew, others like Payal made the most of stitching.
“I would do stitching at home. Like others, when I found that there could be financial help, I too decoded to work to help family with some income. We make penstand, laptop cover, pouches, sowing kits, i-pad covers and shopping bags among other things. We enjoy makign them as we really learn something,” said Payal.
Dr. Aditi Govitrikar, said that the work women did was close to her heart and that it was being promoted. “I have come in from Nagpur yesterday just so I could come for the event to support these ladies,” said Govitrikar.