Didi Cafe and other empowerment initiatives

As of now, 150 women are earning decent amounts after being trained by the district administration of Pakur, which wants to push this number to 1,000, reports Mukesh Ranjan.
Didi Cafe workers with district administration officials.
Didi Cafe workers with district administration officials.

At the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Jharkhand’s Pakur district, there is a small stall offering samosas, pakoras, tea and coffee to the visitors and also serving a simple yet hygienic lunch. Nothing unusual about it. Right? Perception will change when you know that this place is run by a group of women trained and by the district administration.

Under this project called ‘Hunar’, skills are imbibed in women from rural self-help groups (SHG). They are trained in cooking, sewing, driving e-rickshaws and some other trades, with the aim of making them financially independent. The Didi Cafe, as the one at the Deputy Commissioner’s office is called, is one example. A few more are active in other parts of the district. Each one is run by a group of five women. Collectively, they are earning around Rs 30,000 a month. Considering that it has been just two months since these cafes started, the district administration expects the income to rise.

“I have been running this for two months after being trained in hygienic cooking and catering,” said Purnima Devi who runs the Didi Café at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Pakur. The infrastructure is provided by the district administration.

Project Hunar is run by the Pakur district administration in association with Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS). Under this, essential services are provided in the rural areas by training women in trades of their interest. As of now, five services have been identified and efforts are on to provide livelihood opportunities to nearly 1,000 women so that they can earn about Rs 10,000 a month.

Officials informed that more than 150 women are earning a living after obtaining training from JSLPS. “The objective is providing livelihood opportunities to rural women. After providing training to the local SHG women, they will be engaged in eight different trades, identified by the district administration, which are in demand at the local level and is not dependent on the outside market,” said Varun Ranjan, Deputy Commissioner of Pakur.

Mustara Bibi had been making ‘bidis’ for several years and earning Rs 2,000 a month. She makes around Rs 12,000 these days after having started a new innings as a tailor. After undergoing a month-long training programme, she runs a ‘Hunar Silai Kendra’. “The Rs 2,000 I earned a bidi worker came after working overtime. Now, I am running a tailor shop. It all happened after I was given training in stitching along with a sewing machine.”

Behula Pujharni’s life has taken a turn for the better after she started driving a Pink Toto (e-rickshaw). She used to earn Rs 2,000 a month as a bookkeeper. “I am making up to Rs 15,000 a month. The vehicle was provided by the district administration. This has made me financially independent.”

Consistent effort
Tailoring, driving e-rickshaws and running snack centres are three services up and running. Beautician courses and lessons in mobile phone repairing are on the way

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