Srujna, a five-year-old NGO at Kandivli, is helping lesser privileged women earn a livelihood for themselves
Srujna,an NGO based out of Mumbai’s Kandivli suburb, started its operations five years ago with the aim to train victims of human trafficking, who were staying at a shelter home. While interacting with them, these victims shared that they have it all—food, clothing and shelter but what they lack in are the skills and opportunities to work and earn a livelihood for themselves. This is also a major reason why most rescued victims go back to the flesh trade.
Given this scenario, the role of Srujna is crucial. Jyotika Bhatia of Srujna shares, “We evolved as an organisation when we started with these 30 girls, as we trained them and sold the products made by them in various corporate organisations in a span of eight months.” Post this, the NGO tied up with various grass-roots organisations and created livelihood models for the women to sustain financially. Currently, Srujna has tied up with 14 such organisations across the city and products made by these women are sold to around 40 companies via exhibitions or direct orders.
The criteria for selecting the women to be trained by Srujna are vulnerability, level of economic backwardness and women living in poverty. Bhatia adds, “We train them in making paper products, paper quilling, jute products, jewellery, chocolate, tailoring and more. These products are then sold across the country at various exhibitions, as part of CSR initiatives.” The overall effort has given confidence and opportunities to these women in order to earn a livelihood. Now, it’s a regular affair to receive several orders for bags, jewellery and more.”
A small unit exists in the slums of Vakola where a close-knit group of 30 women have been making bags. These women participated in the exhibitions that were set up at various corporate organisations, thus changing the way one woman looked at her own life. In her own words, Shobha* said, “I started participating in the exhibitions at various companies after I was introduced to Srujna. There I saw confident young women working efficiently. I was married when I was just 18 and I didn’t have this kind of opportunity. But I will now ensure that I will not marry off my daughter until she completes her master’s degree and starts a career.”
There is a shelter home in the city that houses 15 young girls rescued from human trafficking. These girls have achieved a certain level of skill in paper quilling, so Srujna helped them improve their craft and understand aspects like how many products should be made, how to go about it, which other skills can be developed in order to make a more sustainable livelihood. This opportunity to earn a decent amount of money has made these girls extremely confident. They even received an order from Godrej Nature’s Basket to make 3,000 rakhis made from paper quilling, which were all sold out in three days! (*name changed to protect identity)