This is an email from Hunarshala News, a newsletter by Hunarshala Monthly Newsletter.
The Newsletter of Hunarshala: Tribal Youth Leadership Academy, Rajasthan
The Makerspace enthusiasts of Pagara- Narendra, Naresh, Bharat, Vishal, Avinash, Mayank and Kuldeep got together for a special mission this month — to use their experience of working with tyres in previous months, and shaping it into a serious entrepreneurial venture.
First step- Product Design. The team realises that to take a product to the market, it needs serious effort and finesse. And so they start looking for design inspiration online, visit market for raw materials- put their heads, heart and hands together, and start working. Soon enough, they understand that they will need multiple iterations.
Before Covid-19 wave paused their operations mid month, they completed making a sofa, a table and a chauki. Narendra, Naresh, Bharat and Vishal think that the table and chauki needs more iterations before being eligible for the market. However, the sofa is almost there — it’s good enough to start taking orders while they still improve.
Rakesh and Jitendra voiced their need to learn electrical work and the challenge was to understand how the electrical wiring in a house works, that enables fans, lights and appliances to operate. To give a demo, Narendra and Bharat decided to make an electrical board using an old carrom board, staying true to the spirit of jugaad — our motto of finding ingenious & creative ways of finding solutions from locally available materials. This helped them demonstrate the wiring methods and principles of electrical circuits. The learners promised to share their new skills with more youth in the area.
Holi is a major festival in Pagara and everyone was excited to celebrate it. Everyone got together to decide how it should be celebrated and, taking inspiration from Sumi di’s workshop on making natural colours, everyone decided that this time, organic colours will be made at the centre. Since Palash flowers are available in abundance locally, Vishal, Kavita, Priyanka and Rahul took the responsibility of collecting flowers from all around the village. The flowers were then soaked overnight in water and then boiled. The mixture was then strained to extract a deep saffron colour, which was further dried to make 2 KGs of beautiful organic gulaal. On the day of Holi, everyone really enjoyed the natural gulaal and some delicacies prepared at the Hunarshala kitchen.
The Computer Hub was bustling with interest, especially from local girls. In the absence of Hunarshala computer facilitator, the local youth senior learners started taking the lead and are teaching their friends about Design, Publishing and e-Mitra application of Indian government.
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Learner Profile: Manisha
Manisha comes from a local family. Her father runs a small Kirana store and her mother is a housewife. She has done her formal education till 12th standard and is now a leader when it comes to teaching computers to girls and boys of the area. She has introduced Priyanka, Kavita, Rakesh and Jitendra to the joys of designing on Canva and sharing thoughts and observations using publishing platforms like Medium. She has also taught fellow learners to become self-sufficient when it comes to applying for government documents like Aadhar card, etc using Indian governments’ e-mitra app.
However, that’s not all. Manisha is on a mission to introduce the village to smokeless Rocket Stoves. She has been learning it online and with facilitators, doing door to door visits, meeting local woman and understanding how she can help them shift to a smokeless Rocket Stove.
Kuldeep and Mayank want to turn their skills to turn into an entrepreneurial venture and have started taking wedding photography and shooting projects. Mayank has started from his own family, shooting his cousin’s wedding, and facing challenges with delays in various ceremonies, coordinating timelines, shooting video and pictures from the same camera, etc. They think they have a lot to learn and hope that they will be able to inspire more students to learn these skills.
They are also leading the efforts to teach more interested youth from the community about photography, film making and editing. Priyanka and Kavita are the latest addition to interested learners, learning Adobe Premier CC editing tools and object photography. Girls have taken well to editing as their parents are not bothered as long as they are at Hunarshala Centre.
Nature photography is another keen area of interest for media hub, and they cover the local forests, trees, flora and lakes — while also experimenting with different lights, soft background, etc.
Avinash and Rahul, two teenagers, who learnt the basics of organic farming, compost making, and making a Mandala Garden from Saqib are now beginning to reach out to the community with what they have learnt.
They decided to share their knowledge by going door to door and telling people how they can grow seasonal vegetables in their backyard, and use Amrit Mitti to ward off the insects, without using pesticides. Being very young, Avinash and Rahul face challenges when elder people are reluctant to listen to their ideas, but they are smart enough, and they convert such conversations into two-way learning exchanges and learn from the experience of elders as well. Nonetheless, they are starting to play an instrumental in promoting organic alternatives to chemical fertilisers and making people aware.
The Fashion Design hub is the busiest and most attended at Hunarshala campus. Priyanka, Chandrika, Kavita, Haju, Deepika, Rapun, Maya & Jyoti are regular participants. With Neelam as facilitator coupled with some orders from Sumi in Fashion Design hub, things have moved very quickly--a lot of girls and women from the community are now learning to stitch tops, wrap around pants, designer blouses, kurtis, saree falls and bags.
The whole process kicked off with Sumi di bringing cloth for everyone from Ahmedabad and asking everyone to make a Kurti for themselves. Before stitching, Sumi di sat everyone down and showed various youtube videos to acquaint the participants with the latest trends in fashion and to understand what would they like to make. About 13 participants made a kurti for themselves as a souvenir of their learning. To personalise the kurti for each one’s tastes, everyone decorated their own kurtis with embroidery.
Learner Profile: Maya bhabhi
Maya, or Maya bhabhi, as everyone calls her at Pagara, is a newlywed in the village, who has taken a keen interest in stitching as soon as there was an opportunity to learn. She doesn’t miss a class and is always proactively asking questions on how to design, cut and finish. Soon she realised that she can put her newly learned skill to good use, and bought a second hand stitching machine to practice at home as well. Maya has now started her own stitching studio in the village and is open to taking orders for kurtis, blouses, saree falls and wrap around pants.
Initiated by facilitator Sumi didi, a community kitchen has been newly setup at Hunarshala and all the participants cook and eat one meal together at the centre. A simple vegetarian menu of dal, chawal, millets and veggies has been decided and it is made sure that the meals are nutritious. Sumi didi, being very strict, makes sure that all the participants eat enough veggies as well because the participants initially seemed reluctant. Vishal, a local tribal youth who is managing the kitchen, realised that the participants prefer familiar tastes and don’t respond well to newer tastes like many urban people do. Hence, new experiments with food are done while maintaining familiarity. On Holi, everyone was served traditional halwa and poori.
Apart from the daily meals, the local youth asked to learn to cook some fast food items such as dosa, pav bhaji, samosa, paranthas, etc. as these will help them earn livelihood in cities and upskill them as cooks instead of being cleaners at urban fast food joints. We plan on offering later workshops on healthy cooking used millets and other local ingredients. By the time the Chef Academy could start, the centre operations had to be paused due to the pandemic, but the program will resume as soon as the centre reopens.
TIME BANKING WORKSHOP
Dhrudip, a former banker from Gujarat, visited Hunarshala campus as a guest resource person to share the concepts of social entrepreneurship and time banking with the village youth. The idea of bartering time, as a much more equal way of exchanging different kinds of labour than money, was exciting for our learners. However, the money culture has seeped deep into the village as well and it will take time to catch up. Dhrudip plans to return to share acting, theatre and performance workshops with the youth to open up their self-expression and eventually teach them film-making as well.
What would it mean to enable youth leadership in tribal areas?
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Hunarshala is a project run as part of Shikshantar Andolan and is supported by DS Group. It is affiliated with Swaraj University.
Made with ❤️ from Rajasthan.