Hirsh Cashdan, Tzedek’s

Overseas Projects Team’s Chair, was delighted to visit in October a few of our partners in Bihar, India. He had a great opportunity to visit our beneficiaries and see how they’re doing.

Our current partner BREAD is now running a vocational training project for 240 beneficiaries in four villages. They are learning the skills of embroidery, beautician, applique and motor winding.

Here is Hirsh’s story:

At the first village we drive to be BREAD’s beautician vocational training center. 12 Girls 15-17 years old demonstrated eyebrow threading, hair cutting and facial scrub massage. The girls at the end of their 6 months planned to work either solo in their own village or in “pop-up” salons at local village markets. At this center we also met with both BREAD board governors and ward councilors who were very happy with the overall vocational programme.

We then moved on to another village where the motor winding training is held. This takes place in a small two roomed building where one of the rooms is used for theory and the other for practical work. All 15 trainees were crammed into the theory room to meet us and show us the various pieces of equipment they worked on e.g. ceiling fans, water pumps, desk fans etc. Some of them expect to repair village equipment others hope to work in factories (there is a substantial industrial area outside Patna). I asked the boys if they would be happy to contribute back into the funds for training others when they were earning and got a positive response.

Next to the village where the embroidery training takes place. Here was an outer room with three sewing machines and a large inner room with another three and many girls seated on the floor hand embroidering. Not one girl, they said, could use a needle before beginning training and yet some very fine work was already being done. One girl showed off her very pretty kameez made part by hand and part by machine. She is already selling clothes in the market and another girl is already earning money embroidering saris – we were shown an example of a finely embroidered sari which took 10 days to make and would sell for between 1,200-1,500 Rupees (£12-£15).

In the fourth village was the applique training center – actually held in one room. We were shown the method – they cut out a paper pattern, place it on a piece of cloth, mark and cut out the shape which is then placed on the large piece of cloth to be decorated and stitched on using hidden hemming or brightly coloured blanket stitch. They showed us a large decorative piece made by the whole group in 10 days – the materials cost 1,200 Rupees and it would sell in the market for 3,500 Rupees (£35) in the market.