Monthly Archives: August 2010

Youth Stories: Bismilla

Bismilla, at age 19, was brought up in a traditional household in Sankalit Nagar, H Ward, consisting of her father whom is a driver, a housewife mother, a married sister, and a brother who is a carpenter. Before joining with Saath, she was unable to leave her household by herself. She was shy, and was unable to communicate with other people. She was able to study up to her 10th standard, but unable to advance any further in education because she was unable to leave the house. Fortunately, about one year ago she came in contact with another young girl, whom was a part of the Youth Group, coming door-to-door telling people about the program, and asked Bismilla to join.  She had to decline because she knew her parents would disapprove. After the encounter however, the youth coordinator came and sat down with Bismilla’s parents, and told them of the advantage the Youth Program can bring, including developing personal skills and interacting with a network of local youth that experience the same everyday difficulties as do you. Hesitantly, they allowed her to go to one meeting.

She was very interested at the first meeting, and was able to convince her parents to allow her to attend more, and become actively involved in its programs including the 3 month long Cleanliness Campaign. She shared that one day the youth group had a picnic at Science City, and this became the first time she left her home, unescorted by her parents.

Later she joined the UMEED program, in order to train in customer relations and get a job. She would have never been allowed to work before, but after the youth coordinator sat down with her parents, they were willing to let this happen. Currently she works with India Infoline, earning Rs. 6000 monthly. Initially her father said no to it, because it was far away. Yet she stayed firm on her desires, with a new found confidence uncovered by the youth program, and persuaded her father to allow her. With such a good occupation, I found it hard to believe that just one year ago, she had no concept of a job, and didn’t even know what her father did for a living. It was only after her first meeting at the youth group, that her and her mother went to her father’s job, and asked questions and learned about what he actually did.

When asked about the transformation she experience as apart of the youth group, Bismilla said “before I was nothing,” and now she is a confident, self empowered young woman. Bismilla encourages other people to join the group, saying that it helps develop a better person out of you, and moreover develop a better community and society through individual growth.

This story was documented by Sagar Patel, 16 (US) who volunteered at Saath for a month. He visited the field and met with youth from the Azaad Youth  Groups.

Launching Rweaves!

Saath has been working with Patola, Tangaliya and cotton weaving artisans from Surendranagar since 2006 through the Snehal project supported by CARE India. The project ended in 2009 and through it, a Federation was set up of the artisans. Today the artisans have better linkages to raw materials and can purchase them at an affordable rate from the Raw material banks set up through the Self Help Groups. However, marketing is still a problem for these artisans. Most of them have to individually seek out retailers and wholesalers who will sell their product, or if they are lucky individual buyers seek them out.

What is R-weaves?

After 4 years of working with artisans along with NIFT in improving their access to affordable credit and developing contemporary designs for more marketable products, Saath has recognised a need to link artisans to markets and also to increase their profits by developing a marketing and retail outlet in Ahmedabad for sale of Tangaliya, Patola and Cotton products.


Patola is a weave, the raw material used for patolas is traditionally silk. In comparison this Patola is from Patan in Gujarat. However the Patola that we refer to here is the one from Surendranagar district. It is a single ikat (Ikat is the Indonesian word that means knot). Weaving these products is an intensive process that include the entire family from dyeing of the silk threads, marking the design and then the weaving. A saree takes approximately 10-12 days to complete from the very first process of spinning the silk onto a spindle.

The products in Patola have been diversified from traditional sarees to stoles, scarves, cushion covers. Similarly more contemporary designs have been introduced along with the traditional patola weave.


A product of the Dangasiya community in Surendranagar District, the name originates from the cloth worn traditionally by the Bharwad community’s men (herdsmen), until very recently where it was adapted to the design of the weave, which is unique and labour intensive. Every dot in the design is made by the artisan wrapping yarn around a number of threads, which brings out the design on both sides.

Earlier only wool was used in making products especially shawls, and dhaablas (blankets), this has been expanded to using cotton and making products such as kurti materials, dupattas, cushion covers, napkins, coatis etc.

Best out of Waste

India has always been a land of making the most out of a resource and in a similar effort families in Surendranagar use old sarees to fashion foot mats, rugs, runners, and asans (long mats for seating diners traditionally). This innovation helps use old synthetic sarees and also supports entire families through the income earned.

Hand woven Cotton

In the land of Gandhi, where large machines today manufacture miles of yarn, there are still a few families that weave cotton on wooden looms preparing a blend of soft designs of this cool fabric. The material is sold by the metre, but one can also find sheets and curtains of these.

The Exhibition-Sale will be held:

Date: 6th—8th Aug 2010 (Friday-Sunday)

Time: 11:00 a.m. to 6: 00 p.m.

Venue: “Shree Ramdev Villa”, 1 – A, Aagman Row Houses, Nr. Satatya Heights, Prernatirth Derasar Road Jodhpur Gam,

Ahmedabad – 380 015