Assam self-help group generates employment for rural women

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

SODIAL - A self-help group (SHG) that mooted a weaving unit in Assam has facilitated a large number of women economically self sufficient by generating employment for them.his self-help group named ‘Bhogdoi’ and based at Sodial village in Jorhat region was the brainchild of Arunima Kachari in 2001.

Ever since its inception, Arunima and her other nine associates have nurtured ‘Bhogdoi’ with utmost dedication.

They started their business with just ten workers by installing only ten looms, but within a period of five years, the number of looms has increased to 45. Now after eight years, they have more than 100 weavers working wonders on 85 looms.

Hundreds of women from this village have benefited from ‘Bhogdoi’.

“I took the initiative of setting up a weaving centre for the womenfolk of my village. Then I started imparting training in weaving to unemployed women of my village. Later, we formed the ‘Bhogdoi’ self-help group. Many have benefited from this weaving business,” Kachari.

“We hardly asked for any assistance from the government. We collected money on our own and started the unit. I never thought we would reach this far. Later, in 2002, we started exhibiting our products. At these exhibitions, we sell our traditional attires like Tongali (waist cloth), Muga (handloom silk), Mekhela Sador (bridal trousseau), gamocha (towel also used to tie around the head),” Kachari added.

The enterprising Arunima motivated scores of girls and even housewives to be a part of the Bhogdoi where she taught them the rudiments of spinning and weaving.

“I am a regular worker in this self-help group. I joined the training after which I was also given a job in this unit. Now, I can send my children to a good school and can provide them good food,” said Dipali Saikia, member-worker.

Since, the products made by this SHG are of high quality and fine finishing, the demand is very high within the district and adjoining areas.

Right from day-one, ‘Bhogdoi ‘has relied only on traditional modes. The spinning wheels are made of bicycle wheel while the looms are bamboo or cane and wood-based.

‘Bhogdoi’ SHG has participated in various handloom exhibitions across the country and bagged a couple of awards conferred by the Government of Assam and also the Central Government.

There are more than 85,000 SHGs functioning in Assam, playing the role of a vital catalyst in the overall socio-economic scenario.

The main spheres in which these SHGs are active happen to be agriculture, handloom, poultry and dairy farming, food processing units in the cottage industry sector, bee keeping, cane and bamboo craft among others.

Jorhat district itself boasts of at least 7000 SHGs.

Interestingly, there are quite a few number of high school students who are members of Bhogdoi and they have experienced ‘earn while you learn’. By Apem (ANI)

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