Kumbaya has to be one of my favorite Samaj Pragati Sahayog initiatives. Partially because they produce beautiful items, partially because it is a really innovative project to promote women’s empowerment, and partially because the staff is some of the friendliest people I’ve met so far.

“The unique significance of Kumbaya is that in a predominantly agrarian region, where there have been no traditional marketable crafts, it makes machine-stitched ready-to-wear garments, home linen and accessories designed to market specifications and international trends. Located deep in the tribal drylands for the last fourteen years, Kumbaya has empowered women from one of the most deprived areas of the country by creating livelihoods through the dynamic skill of garment fabrication. Most of these tribal women had never stitched a garment before and had no options other than manual labour. Kumbaya is also hope for many differently-abled people, particularly women, whose inability to contribute manual labour in an agricultural area leads to their abandonment. Today over 500 women in 50 villages of Udainagar revenue circle and Bagli tehsil have learnt stitching.”

They have 2 centers where women (and men and handicapped people) from surrounding villages come to train and produce various garments based on orders that Kumbaya receives. At the main office location is the 3rd Kumbaya center – where they store the cloth, cut items to be stitched by the ladies at the 2 other centers, and create samples for potential production. Additionally, this is where Shahid, one of the employees, does his specialized embroidery. His work is amazing and it’s just memorizing to watch him create the beautiful pieces. Here’s a neat mini-documentary that focuses on Shahid’s craft.

Majority of my time is spent at the main office location and Anju, coordinator of the Kumbaya initiative, is my main companion on my bus trips back and forth (She speaks Hindi and English – so she does a lot of translating so I don’t end up in some random village because of my horrible Hindi skills). So I have gotten to know the Kumbaya team at the main office location very well. They are lovely group who are very friendly (and made me some fabulous shirts! I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of money before I love).

I couldn’t help but attach a lot of photos

1 photo: one of the centers where villagers are working on their products – with various patchwork quilts on the wall

1photo: Anju and Pappu hard at work at figuring out the costs of the items

1photo: Anju showing off her Kumbaya made outfit. The shirt is all natural dyed.

1 photo: all the men working in the main location – in charge of cutting, sampling etc

2 photo: showing how the cutting it done w/ stencils and checking out the quality of a shirt

1 photo: demonstrating how to sew on a pocket

3 photos: Shahid at work and two of his embroidery work



One thought on “Kumbaya

  1. A great project! Other than skill training, how do the villagers benefit from the project? Do they get to sell the goods and keep the proceeds?ReenaVThe ID Posthttp://theidpost.blogspot.com

  2. Reena,After training (usually 3 months), the villagers become producers. At this time they are able to work on products that are exported or on order. They are paid by how many garments they finish a day and so forth. This is actually a more stable income b/c there is work every day and Kumbaya is constantly has orders to fulfill. It is also easier work than being daily wage workers in the fields where they are working 10 hour days in grueling heat and the work is very inconsistent due to seasons and harvests. With Kumbaya, they are inside w/ fans and so forth – better work accommodations. Additionally, many of the women have started their own stitching business with the skills they’ve learned – either as a full time job or to supplement their income. So a very beneficial initiative to those who are willing to participate.-keena

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