Dalit girls and young women suffer the worst treatment in India because their status is so low within society. Their lives are mostly spent in the home looking after younger children, or grandparents so that their parents can both go to work. In general, Dalit girls do not complete their education and often they leave school during their primary school years. Therefore, illiteracy amongst Dalit girls is extremely high.
Learning the skill of tailoring enables teenage girls and young mothers to work from home and acquire some financial independence. Their only other choice of employment is domestic work, or 'coolie' work, both of which are extremely hard physically and pay very low wages. Tailoring gives these girls more respect by both their families and others within their village. 'Coolies' are manual labourers employed on a day-to-day basis. They have no job security and for several months there is no work at all. Wages are around Rs 150 per day (£1.75) for back-breaking work in very hot and dusty conditions.
As is the case with all the social projects we help with, the Fathers request that those who stand to benefit should also contribute what they can to the project. In this way a partnership is created and the Dalit women retain their self-respect which is very important. Each tailoring student is asked to give 100 rupees to collectively fund the cost of a seamstress to teach them. In return, once they had completed their training, Supporting Dalit Children helps with the funding of sewing machines at a cost of 6000 rupees each - approximately £75. (The price has increased from 2013 for 2 reasons, firstly the cost per machine has increased to 6000 Rs in India and since Brexit as the pound has fallen in value to 80 Rs to the £)
Within 10 months the tailoring apprentices complete their apprenticeship. We are happy to report that over the course of the last few years, several individuals and a Trust fund have collectively bought the sewing machines needed for the tailoring students of Rajolli, Pannur and now Ramathnal. They are all now qualified as seamstresses and able to make clothes and sell them at local markets for a small profit.
It is fantastic to think that this practical partnership has given empowerment as well as much needed financial independence to over 50 young women. This project can benefit many more women in other villages, so if you would like to help one of these young girls to learn a new skill, please go to the DONATE page or alternatively make a donation towards a sewing machine using PAYPAL.
To buy a sewing machine using PAYPAL, please follow this link