Women SHGs weave charm and promise into exhibition

A member of a self help group at work on a jute bag at an exhibition in Puducherry on Sunday.

A member of a self help group at work on a jute bag at an exhibition in Puducherry on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: T. Singaravelou

Staff Reporter

PUDUCHERRY: With a view to facilitating interaction between members of women Self-Help Groups (SHG) and help them showcase their skills, an exhibition of products made by them was held on Sunday.

From colourful and well-knit jute bags, carefully crafted flower vases to designer jewellery and areca leaf plates, the SHGs stole the show with their exhibits.

The exhibition, which was organised by HOPE, served as a platform to bring together SHGs belonging to tsunami-affected villages in Puducherry.

“After the tsunami, we formed a total 53 SHGs in 2005. A grant of Rs. 30 lakh was initially given to 27 groups followed by Rs. 11 lakh in 2007 to 11 groups. Training in making candles, incense sticks and jute products was imparted to them,” director of HOPE P. Joseph Victor Raj said.

A total of 1,030 women were part of the SHGs, each group consisting of a maximum of 20 members. “The purpose of the exhibition was not only to sell and promote the products but also facilitate an exchange of knowledge among the groups. Through this, the groups can come to know the economics and skills of the others,” he said.

The SHGs belonged to areas including Kalapet, Kanagachettikulam, Pillaichavady, Aladimedu and Vambapet. A total of 20 stalls were put up at the exhibition.

“In future, we are planning to train the groups in using fibre to make products. Training for beauty parlours and making paper bags will also be offered,” Mr. Raj said.

The stalls consisted of fruits, eatables, plastic items and toys, hand-made dolls, slippers, candles, sarees, fancy jewellery and ayurvedic cosmetic products.

“We learnt how to make artificial and fashion jewellery using stones. We were also trained in making flower vases and painting them. Learning these skills have been very beneficial,” L. Subadra of Shenbagapu Women SHG said. While big vases were sold for Rs. 150, the smaller ones were priced at Rs. 75.

B. Jagadeeswari, another SHG member, said they had the talent to make the products but needed marketing skills and opportunities to promote their products.

Apart from jute bags, plates made of areca leaves were among the major attractions at the exhibition. “We have sold nearly 9,000 plates in the last two months,” said B. Shanti, member of Shevanthi Women SHG.

A photography exhibition on women and children was part of the exhibition. Various cultural programmes such as dance, drama, music, seminar and screening of documentaries were held.

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