MUMBAI, AUGUST 19, 2009: The scorching heat of the Mumbai sun and the dusty air did not deter the spirits of the women from the slums of Dharavi who had gathered on the afternoon of August 17, 2009 at the Ekvira Mitra Mandal community centre for the inaugural tailoring class.
“Aaj class ka pehla din hain”, chirped Laxmi, a housewife from Dharavi. She and her friends were visibly enthusiastic about their first day at the class. Other than the sixty women who had gathered at the community centre, Fr. Savio Silveira, Mr. Jairam Chowgule from Ekvira Mitra Mandal, Mr. Vijay Rajput, Mr. Sunil Katkar and Mr. Manish Daliya from Vijay Apparels; Mr. Arun Birade from the Apparel Training and Designing Centre were present for the inauguration ceremony.
Ms. Surekha Pednekar from the Mumbai Development office delivered the welcome address after which floral tributes were presented to the guests. The afternoon saw the women students perform an aarti for the machines while the breaking of the coconut to ward off evil followed. In her introductory address Ms. Pednekar mentioned the keen interest of these women to learn tailoring. The women wanted to contribute to their partners earnings so that their children would be able to have a better education.
Fr. Savio, in his address mentioned that only screaming and shouting slogans for women empowerment on Women’s Day is not enough. He added that they needed to move ahead by developing skills. Mr. Chowgule from Ekvira Mitra Mandal gave a simple yet interesting example about a vehicle with two wheels. He compared the vehicle with life and the two wheels to a husband and a wife. In order that the vehicle should function well both the wheels need to be in balance. In the same way, even a husband and wife need to support each other. If the wife develops her skills and contributes to the income of the family, the whole family will benefit. Apart from the tailoring course Don Bosco Development Society also trains for basic computer skills and spoken English at the same community centre at Dharavi which benefits youth and children from the surrounding locality.
After the tailoring course jobs will be provided to these women by Raj Apparels. Visits to factories will also be arranged as the course progresses. These classes will be held regularly for the next two months. It is commendable to see these women balance out their household chores and their regular classes. Don Bosco Development Society is surely heading towards Saksham- women empowerment in all fields.