All of 23, Sarhaka Lakiang is a budding entrepreneur who runs a tailoring unit from her home in Jowai in Meghalaya. Her transformational journey from an ordinary girl to an enterprising woman is an inspirational story for many women from marginalized communities.
Born into a poor family of 7 children, Sarhaka had to discontinue her education to look after her younger siblings as her mother earned a living by working as a domestic help. A creative mind that she was, Sarhaka would redesign old un-used clothes at home. This interest of hers brought her in contact with the iLEAD Shillong center staff who encouraged her to undergo training in “Fashion Designing and Tailoring” course. Talented that she was, Sarhaka didn’t have to look back after completing her training. She got immediately placed in a boutique in Shillong from where she learnt the nuances of tailoring business. While Sarhaka was happy with the way her life was shaping up, deep down, she strongly aspired to start her own tailoring unit and help her younger siblings attain quality education and life.
A casual follow-up visit by the iLEAD staff was a turning point in Sarhaka’s life. When she expressed her aspiration to start her unit, the staff informed her about the entrepreneurship programme offered by Aide et Action & Tata Trusts. Soon, she submitted a business plan and applied for an interest free loan of INR 42000 in 2016. After receiving the loan, she started a tailoring unit based from her home, where she takes orders from the customers in her neighbourhood. She earns Rs 4000 per month.
Sarhaka says “I had to drop out of school because my family could not afford it but with me and my mother now earning, I hope to ensure that atleast my younger siblings can continue their education. I want to grow my business, I hope someday I will be able to set up my own boutique.”
Riwanda Lyngdoh’s life has changed a lot during the past 3 years that she has been associated with AEA. In her hometown of Umsning (30 kms from capital Shillong), she can be seen running her Beauty Parlour. She also uses her Parlour as a retail outlet for various Beauty products. Riwanda is one of 50 iLEAD trained alumni who are being supported with financial assistance under the Tata Trust supported MEPP project of AEA.
A young single mother of 3 children, Riwanda’s association with AEA, dates back to 2014, when she had joined the iLEAD Shillong centre as a trainee in the Beautician course. She came to the iLEAD centre to gain employable skills through which she could provide for her children’s education. After completing her training, she worked a free lance Beautician. After working for a few months, and with her earnings, she started a small Beauty Parlour in her locality which started doing well. Slowly she started looking for financial support to expand her business.
It was during this time, that her Beautician trainer from iLEAD had informed her about the interest free loans that were being provided to entrepreneurs to upscale and start their enterprises. Riwanda applied for a loan of Rs 100,000 was one of the 10 existing beneficiaries who received financial assistance for starting & upscaling their business. With the loan money, she purchased additional supplies and products for her Parlour. Her parlour continues to be in operation and her average monthly earnings are Rs 15000.
The CCLC facilitator also observed that Aradhana was good at fine arts. So when a local NGO organized a free summer camp for children in their locality, she recommended Aradhana to enroll in dance and drawing courses. The parents of Aradhana were immensely surprised when they came to know that she has won first prizes in both dance and drawing competitions.
“We were not aware about our child’s potential and talent but because of ‘didi’, we have realized that if my girl gets a proper platform she can prove herself. I will ensure that my girl would study further as per her desire” says Aradhana’s father Munna Lal.
Sarita Kumari is a Class V student from Bariya Tiwari Tola of Bariya block, Bihar. Once a regular, Sarita suddenly stopped coming to school. When the volunteer enquired with her parents about her absence, they informed that Sarita left for her maternal uncle’s place, which is 55 kms, to look after his children after the death of his wife.
The project team along with Panchayati Raj Institution & Child Rights Protection Committee members immediately organized a meeting with Sarita’s parents and uncle. The committee explained how they are spoiling Sarita’s future which is also unlawful. The parents realized their mistake and agreed to send her to school. Now Sarita is back in school and enjoys her studies.
Meet Manuj Mili, a 16 year old boy of Bercape Balichapori village. He was a student of the Bercape LP School who has successfully completed his High School Leaving Certificate Examination (Class 10) this year. Manuj’s association with the AEA dates back to 2011 when we started a child club in his school as part of the 'Access and Quality Education for Children of Mishing Community' project in Assam.
The project volunteer remembers Manuj as a very shy boy who would reluctantly participate in school activities after much persuasion. Thanks to the Child Club, Manuj's attitude transformed from a shy to a confident boy who secured 1st division in the recent Matriculation examination.
The Child club has been instrumental in identifying the talents of children and encourage them accordingly. These activities were closely monitored by the Mother’s Group, Village Development Committee and the project volunteers on a regular basis.
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