Choice, Change and Cha!
Nov 11, 2016
The once dominant strand of vulnerability for women in Murshidabad is now being interwoven with choice and opportunity at Freeset Fabrics. Lets find out how the woman there feel about it.
Freeset Fabrics is celebrating training and new trainees this week. While acknowledging that employment is not the only answer to troubles that women in India face – it can play a significant role in effecting positive change and training is the first step.
The once dominant strand of vulnerability for women in Murshidabad is now being interwoven with choice and opportunity at Freeset Fabrics – bringing with it a growing community of confident and empowered women who are taking hold of their own futures. We are nearly two years old and our team is growing. Such enthusiasm to learn all the processes involved in the production of beautiful handloom fabric and scarves is contagious!
Last week there was an amazing outburst of color and fun as trainees and staff ran around tying Rakhis onto each other’s wrists at cha(tea) time. Rakhi is a tradition that is observed by people from all faiths by the tying of a silk thread or decorative ribbon onto another’s wrist as a sign of commitment to protect and encourage peaceful co-existence and harmonious society. Adorned with multi-coloured Rakhis from wrist to elbow, we also celebrated with mishti (Bengali sweets) and lots of smiles.
Two of our newest group of trainees who joined us in May shared how the experience is changing their lives and how they feel valued in the team. Anandi said“I am making true friends here. I really love this opportunity as well as the skills I am learning for scarf and fabric production, I am also improving my writing skills – now I can write my name and address in Bengali and English. We also have group counselling sessions where we can learn how to deal with the problems and challenges we face. My dream is for Freeset Fabrics to grow so we can offer more training to more women.”
Meera said “I am enjoying learning how to weave – I love the rhythm, it’s a great exercise as well. I love how we are all learning together. This year was the first time I celebrated Rakhi which was very special as I have recently returned to my village from Kolkata. Before Freeset Fabrics there was no work for me to do here.My dream for my daughter is that she will have a good education and that she will be able to make her own choices and decisions.
Lakhi is learning finishing processes, including fringing. She also helps with general tasks around the factory, making cha for everyone at the morning break and refreshing “sherbert’ (a fresh lime drink with sugar and salt – very energizing in the Bengali summer/monsoon time) in the afternoon. She said “I love my work – because I have to connect with everyone. Before I started here I was at home – but there wasn’t enough for me to do and I was bored – I had left school early to help my mum as she had an accident and broke her arm. My dream is to be able to build a good home and to help my five sisters with their education- working here helps me to be able to take better care of my family.”
Samadini, has progressed from Trainee to Production Assistant and most recently to Trainer, having excelled in all the weaving processes and demonstrated her ability to teach others. She loves a challenge and says with a big smile on her face: “Seeing everyone keen to learn, trying their best and progressing gives me real job satisfaction. The new trainees are competitive and want to do well!”
Our commitment is to provide a great learning environment with the opportunity to be part of a business that is thriving and has the potential to grow.Our success also depends on all the lovely people who choose to buy our scarves, which are so much more than a piece of woven fabric. To grow and flourish in the way we dream, providing more work for more women, we need to keep on selling and to grow our market. We will soon be adding some new colors as well as a new range to our core collection. In the next year we will also add a range of new products made from our fabric- so watch this space and get ready to buy at www.freesetfabrics.com Together we are weaving freedom!