CHENNAI: This Sunday morning was unlike any other at Vidya Sagar, Kotturpuram. The narrow driveway that leads to classrooms had stalls set up by young entrepreneurs, eager for residents in and around the area to make their way to the Sunday Bazaar.
Crowds poured in by 11 am, and the energy was palpable. Family and friends of organisers, well-wishers of Vidya Sagar, couples relaxing at food stalls, and young boys offering to be DJs for the day — there was cheer in the air. “Our idea was to organise something fun for families. It takes very little to give back, and people who come here become committed to the cause whether they are aware of it or not,” said Aruna Anand, a volunteer.
The Sunday Bazaar was the first of its kind organised by Vidya Sagar. A team of five came together a month ago and decided to invite like-minded entrepreneurs and organisers to set up a stall at the bazaar. “All of them readily agreed to participate for a small fee,” added Aruna.Stalls at the bazaar sold everythng from baby products to breads and cakes, by stores like Manjeri, Skinsense, Kairasi, and Old Madras Baking Company.
Anu Alex from the Community Based Rehabilitation Centre of Vidya Sagar, put up Kudil Fantasy. “All jewellery and lunch bags you see here were made over a period of six months by women with disabilities, from Thiruvallur district,” she said,
Vidya Sagar’s own Kalakkal Kadai had a stall with handmade bags, dry leaf products, mats and quilts. “These are made by adults who are physically in need of support, but are cognitively bright. Our vocational centre in T Nagar has eight weaving units, and all these 69-70 eco-friendly products you see here, come from there,” said Vijayashree Ramesh, co-ordinator of employment education centre, Vidya Sagar.
Vijayashree, a homemaker and entrepreneur, who aims to empower retired women from convents in Chennai, set up a stall called Baby’s Breath. “All these baby products are embroidered with a technique called ‘smocking’. It is a dying art, and women who work in convents are taught the art. They’re also the best at it. I brought them on board, and started this from my home itself,” said Subhashini Raja, from Kotturpuram. She has previously exhibited at events organised by International Women’s Association, and prefers handicraft exhibition spaces over commercial ones.