Vijaya and Yashoda are part of our Nature Maker Group in Hindupur in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Due to its geographical location, the state does not benefit from the southwest monsoon nor the northeast monsoon. It therefore suffers from complete lack of rainfall and drought is endemic to the region. This means that unlike in most rural locations, agricultural and livestock rearing do not provide a sustainable income for inhabitants of the region. This makes it one of the most impoverished and disadvantaged states in the south of the country.
Secret Projects connected with the women who now make up Nature Maker Group through a Catholic Brotherhood that provides community outreach and vocational training in the area. They have a fantastic training unit set up with treadle sewing machines where local women can come for training and to use the machines. This is where we meet up with the women of Nature Maker Group once a month to quality check their creations, provide feedback and to host training sessions for new products. This month we trained them in the production of our Secret Shopping Bags. We were deeply impressed by how quickly they grasped it!
These visits are an important time for us to check-in with our Makers. This month we sat down with Vijaya and Yashoda for a chat...
Vijaya (48 years old) is from a small village in Hindupur called Kirikera, where she has lived her entire life. She went to school until the 10th grade (16 years old), and she then got married and became a housewife. It was 15 years ago that she learnt how to sew through friends and neighbours in her village. In 2014 she connected with the Catholic Brotherhood through a community outreach programme they were hosting in her village. She became a sewing and dressmaking teacher at their production unit and estimates that she has now taught over 400 women and girls how to sew. This makes her feel proud that she can have an impact on other women's lives. She says it is her way of saying thank you to the women who taught her all those years ago and improved her situation, as sewing has changed her life. Through the money she earns from Secret Projects, Vijaya has been able to pay for her son's electrician course. She now plans to purchase a Xerox photocopying and printing machine to help him start his own business. We are so moved by the support you give to all those around you Vijaya!
Yashoda (28 years old) is the leader of Nature Maker Group. She coordinates production and organises meetings. Yashoda is originally from the state of Karnataka but moved to Hindupur 6 years ago for marriage. She learnt to sew at the Catholic Brotherhood's training complex. Making for Secret Projects is her first job, before that she was a housewife. She says it makes her feel more important now that she is able to contribute to household expenses. She is able to contribute towards her two children's school fees and her house rent. She has also been able to purchase her first treadle sewing machine and launch a micro-enterprise stitching sari blouses along with two other Makers that she runs from her home. She dreams of being able to purchase a power sewing machine and open a tailoring store on the main road in her town. With sustained order from Secret Projects, this dream is possible! As customers of Secret Projects, your choices make real and significant impact on the lives of our Makers throughout India and enable dreams like this to become reality.