Devika Bora - Crafting Better Futures
Devika Bora talks about the Rungamuttee Ladies Craft Centre
The Ladies Craft Centre at Rungamuttee was started in 1989 when Mr. G. Dua was the Senior Manager of the estate. In fact, it was his wife, Ms Dua, whose personal initiative to teach Ms Neelam, wife of the bungalow’s domestic help, basic embroidery skills that down the line, culminated in the establishing of a formal craft centre at the estate. Over the years, this simple idea of training local women to embroider household items picked up momentum and grew to become a centre that provides women with skills to supplement their income.
My husband and I moved to Rungamuttee in December 2013. Soon after arriving, I was attending a social gathering at Damdim when I first spotted some exquisite hand embroidered napkins and coasters that were laid out for the guests. On enquiring about these items, I was told they were made by the women of the Rungamuttee Ladies Craft Centre. I was surprised by the discovery but it was also at this moment that I developed a vision for the Craft Centre. I realized the wealth of latent talent and the need for it to be showcased to the wider community.
On returning to the estate, I was eager to gather information about the current status of the Centre and discussed my ideas at length with my husband. I then called for a meeting which was attended by all the senior management staff and their wives, welfare officers of the estate, Ms Neelam, the trainer at the centre, and her ten students. From our discussions, I learned about their work and the many problems they faced. For me to realize my vision of marketing these products to a larger audience, I knew that I would have to motivate the students to come forward with more vigour and make them recognise their own talent. I was convinced that we would be able to get much better returns if we were driven to achieve the new goals that we were setting for ourselves.
Wasting no time, we decided to revive the Centre. With an initial investment of Rs. 2,000 we procured the basic materials required for embroidery work like needles, cloth, thread and frames. It was heartening to see that within a short time, the attendance picked up and many more girls began coming to the Centre to collect needles, thread and other necessary items. This was a very encouraging development and it convinced me that we were heading in the right direction.
Products of the Rungamuttee Crafts Centre are now being displayed at the Company kiosks in Guwahati and Batabari. We are also receiving individual orders from the women of the planters community in Dooars and Assam. The demand is ever increasing and we find ourselves being flooded with orders, which poses a challenge while at the same time brings us an extremely gratifying feeling.
Most of the girls associated with the Centre are students. It means a little extra income for them, and they can earn while learning. Over the course of my involvement at the Craft Centre, a beautiful bond has formed between me and the girls. Our work has brought us together and we function almost like a family. As a token of my appreciation for their efforts, I had taken all the girls of the Centre for a picnic near Bagrakote. Their happiness knew no bounds that day!
I feel so happy now being associated with the Craft Centre, where talent is reaching new horizons. The girls from the workers community are directly benefitted with some extra income while gaining a sense of self-sufficiency and independence. The response so far has been extremely positive and I am sure we will be able to achieve even greater things in the days to come, with everyone’s best wishes and support.