Stylishly designed, the bags made by street children are much sought after.
Symbols of self-reliance: A visitor choosing a bag at the Dastkar craft fair.
These bags spell success for this group of street children from Delhi. Symbols of self –reliance, they help free the youngsters from a life of squalor and raise their self-esteem.
These hand crafted products by “Lakshya: Badte Kadam” were much in demand at the recently held Crafts Bazaar held by Dastkar at the Kalakshetra Foundation. Lakshya impresses you by the way in which waste has been transformed into objects of beauty and utility. The patchwork quilt-like bags have been made out of jute and bits of fabrics discarded after garments are tailored. Stylishly designed, they make bold statements for school and college students and others in a range of age groups. Wallets, belts, satchels, shopping bags, notebooks, notepads, address and telephone books make for a tempting variety.
Situated in Bhatola village in Faridabad, Haryana (contact numbers: 9871193963, 9818592665, 0129-3964158: email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Lakshya is an organisation of “street children who have come together with a social responsibility to provide education and shelter to others of their kind and ensure they lead a life of dignity.”
The youngsters all gravitated to New Delhi and Old Delhi railway stations from various places in the country. Those who had managed to sustain themselves for a few years by polishing shoes, pulling rickshaws or picking rags, felt they could make a difference to their fellows and formed the society in 2004.
Umamahesh Gupta, a caretaker of Lakshya, says at the Chennai exhibition, “We are located in the National Capital area 30 km from Delhi. Our designers are NIFT students. If more people buy our products we will be able to help more children. At present 25 youngsters live and work together. The founder of Lakshya was Ramesh Kumar Gupta who ran away from home 50 years ago. A few of us who frequented railway stations, red light areas and bus stations received counselling and we did not want young children to follow our way of life.”
The society has picked up well since it was founded, points out Umamahesh. “Twelve children go to school. We have a dozen sewing machines and the work is done in shifts. Bags from both jute and old newspaper are made here. We get orders for the newspaper bags from an exporter from the U.K. The income generated covers living expenses and school fees. A few have married either former street children or poor girls from the village,” adds Umamahesh. “This is my wife Poonam,” he says introducing the beautiful girl helping in the sales. They have three children.
“Previously traders in Katrang market donated the waste fabrics but they no longer do so and we buy the pieces,” Gupta explains. “We get orders through exhibitions held in schools, colleges and call centres. We have been participating in the Dastkar exhibition for the past four years and have visited Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai. People love our products as they are made out of recycled material and are eco- friendly. We like the Chennai customers. They don’t bargain much and out of 100 persons who visit our stall, at least 90 buy the products,” he beams.
This article was from TTHE HINDU dated January 30, 2009