Good education, although considered a vital need for all, is limiting in its access and continuity. Although considered a vital need for all, good education Around 15 crore children are currently out of the Indian education system (the Minister of Education in India, Dharmendra Pradhan, August 2021). The figure for dropouts at the secondary level is as high as 17%, and some children have never even enrolled in schools. Good education is necessary to live in a financially stable environment. But many of those in poverty-stricken villages never get the chance.
To address these issues, in the small south Indian state of Pondicherry, a program for children's education has helped over 1,400 children and their families out of poverty. Starting in 1966, many of the children have gone from enduring poverty and difficult family circumstances to achieving higher education and securing good jobs.
Yet, even when provided with basic education, not all children wish to continue on the traditional theoretical schooling path. For many, it's a dream to work with their hands and express their creativity by creating products as artisans and handicrafts, or to feel the earth between their fingers as farmers. This path needs to also be valued, and those that choose to work with their hands rather than in offices should also be able to get a safe and happy livelihood from it.
That's why the program has created several artisan units where young adults that prefer to get more practical work experience can proudly hand-craft different items. That's not all, the artisan groups also take in other disadvantaged groups in the community, such as people with disabilities.
Jute is a strong and versatile fibre, making it useful for many purposes. It is grown and processed traditionally in the river beds leading down to the Bay of Bengal and it even stores Co2 and enhances the fertility of the soil it grows on for future crops.
Jute alone can be a bit too rough for the touch. Therefore cotton can be blended in with the jute to create a softer and more fine textile. We always prefer to not work with cotton because of its high water consumption, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. However, cotton is sometimes needed for its qualities.
Hand embroidered products | Aesthetic looks and designs | Soft to the touch | Highly durable | Lightweight | Spirulina - Extremely high in many nutrients | Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory | Naturally planted and cultivated
The Atelier Shanti (Peace) association acts as a rehabilitation centre for women, former lepers and disabled people. The work here involves weaving, sewing and embroidery. Once orders are placed from the customer catalogue, production starts.
In the embroidery section, women who are physically handicapped, manufacture made-ups and embroidered table cloths ordered by customers. Women use power sewing machines to manufacture the items in the sewing section. And in the weaving section, the workers here are mostly physically handicapped, men and women. There are many sub-sections to work on; to prepare the big and small bobbins, to prepare the chain, those in charge of the sizing and warping, those specialized in 'Pavou' (organizing the yarn of the chain), those who apply starch and the weavers who make fabrics about 19 m of length.
Liege Carpentry deals with carpentry and has courses that last 2 years at most. Helping the youth to gain skills and help them in a future job search. Dozens of young boys have benefited from this assistance since the program began.
Kalai Art is the art section where one artist is employed who executes all kinds of artwork. He also makes greeting cards with various designs, sometimes embroidered by Atelier Shanti.
Uyarvu is the binding section. With a professional cutting machine and under the supervision of the in-charge of Kalai Art, several apprentices are trained in the binding of books and notebooks.
In the rural areas outside of the town, a spirulina farming unit has been set up providing farmer livelihoods and training in the innovation of spirulina cultivation. The spirulina is grown and later processed into highly nutritious spirulina powder.
Most of the units depend on handmaking. This requires less energy and much lower carbon footprints than items made on mass-production assembly lines. By using environmentally beneficial materials such as jute and using rural innovation to naturally produce spirulina powder, the units create products with the environment in mind.
UN Sustainable Development goal
By creating hand-made products, this project has contributed to target 12.2; "achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources"
Carbon dioxide storing(fixating) in Jute: 2.2kg Co2e stored in 1 kg of processed jute fibre*
A market for handmade products provides real, living wages to skilled artisans worldwide. Not only that, the provision of free education to anyone who wishes to learn enables them lifetime security with the prospects of jobs after and a chance for a better life.
UN Sustainable Development goal
By providing quality education and vocational training, irrespective of disabilities and vulnerabilities, this project has contributed to target 4.5; "eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable"
*Jute Co2 fixation: 5641kg Co2 fixated per hectare of processed jute fibre. 1 hectare of jute fibre yields 2500 kg jute fibre. (Estimation: 5641/2500= 2.2kg Co2 fixated per kg jute fibre). Source: http://www.sac.org.bd/archives/journals/sja_v_7_i_2_2009.pdf#page=54