Bhubaneswar, Sept 18 (LocalWire): Very few would know that tribal paintings displayed at several souvenir shops in the state are made by the tribal women of Jajpur.
Recently, around 300 paintings made by these women have found place at the latest tribal world outlet of the state government.
These paintings based on Saura and Gond art were delivered to the Tribal Development Co-operative Corporation of Odisha Limited, the apex co-operative body for sale and purchase of tribal products in Odisha.
The woman artisans are part of Navjeevan, a cooperative formed by women of relocated families of Tata Steel Kalinganagar plant.
To provide sustainable livelihood to the relocated families, the company chalked out plans to create various avenues for income generation.
Most of these families residing in Trijanga, Sansailo and Gobarghati rehabilitation colonies, belong to the Munda communities and efforts were made to upgrade their skills through training and contract jobs.
The focus was on the womenfolk who were earlier involved in animal rearing and farming or were confined to their homes with no sources of income.
In an attempt to provide livelihood to the female members of these families, Navjeevan Co-operative was started in 2006.
It aimed at coming up with income generating programmes that are not only sustainable but also holistic.
Since then, a number of livelihood activities were experimented with, among which the art and craft unit delivered maximum remunerative returns.
What began with tribal paintings, has now expanded to garments (hand painted T-shirts), hand painted stoles, dupattas, sarees and multi-utility items like conference files and folders, flower vases, pen stands, laminated jute bags and mobile covers and wall hangings.
This apart, other well-known brands like Fabindia and Tribes India, also source their products from the cooperative.
From homemakers to transacting businesses with leading agencies of the country, these female artisans have turned professionals since the inception of the cooperative.
Presently, around 30 women are working in the painting unit of the cooperative.
The average income of the artisans ranges from Rs 3,000 to Rs. 5000 per month, strongly contributing to the family income.
Sukanti Jarika has been an artist at Navjeevan since the last two years.
‘I wanted to support my family and become financially independent at the same time. Also, I had a knack for painting since childhood but I never realized that I could turn it into a profession.
After coming here, I have evolved a lot,’ she said.
Renuka Badra, from Jharkhand, got married into one of the families. She got involved with Navjeevan happened by chance.
‘Once I accompanied my neighbour who was already into the unit, to see their work.
I was impressed by the intricate work and wanted to join them immediately.
It took me a month to learn the art and I really enjoy doing it now,’ she said.
For Jemamani Jamuda, who carries her two-month-old baby to the centre, it is a very challenging affair.
‘I feed her and then put her off to sleep and in the meanwhile finish my work.
There is no one at home while my husband is at work.
Other members in the group are very cooperative so it becomes easy for me to juggle work and child,’ she said.
Apart from the art and crafts unit, there are stitching, apparel manufacturing and noodle-making units under the cooperative.
Around 100 women are actively involved in various units of the cooperative.
‘In future, there are plans to source our products to various parts of the country in order to generate more income for the womenfolk.
We have also planned to invite experts and host workshops with the cooperative members to further nurture their skills,’ said Koushalya Patra, president of the cooperative.
The cooperative has generated a turnover of about Rs 35 lakhs last year.