Did you know that world over, June 23 is celebrated as International Widows Day? According to this report, there are approximately 42 million widows in India and 254 million across the world.
Even though these numbers are so high, there is still stigma about widows, a perception and a fact that needs to undergo a sea-change.
For Amit Jain, the loss of his father when he was merely three, was debilitating; it was even more heartbreaking to see his widowed mother in pain and anguish.
Moreover, she was not allowed to participate in several rituals at his brother’s wedding, simply because she was a widow. Not wanting the same to happen to any other widow in India, Amit founded an organisation called Mitti Ke Rang.
In this conversation with The Better India, Saket Deshmukh, co-founder of Mitti Ke Rang, tells us about the organisation and their vision for the future.
Having experienced loss and its subsequent challenges, Amit wanted to give back to society.
The motivation was to mobilise the youth and do something meaningful.
Saket says, “We were sure that we did not want to use or sell poverty in any manner. All we wanted was to connect those who needed help with those who are empowered.”
Mitti Ke Rang was born in Pune in 2014, primarily as a platform to educate, rehabilitate and empower widows and single women to take direct action against violence and assault in India.
At the same time, it provides tools and resources for women, including access to legal, medical and psychological support. Saket tells me that since its inception, the organisation’s scope of work has widened and they now help all women.
One of the reasons why women chose to stay at home and not venture out to work is to care for the children and provide for the family financially.
To address this concern, Mitti Ke Rang came up with a solution.
Saket says, “We have various programme to enhance the skills of the children, whether in English or Mathematics. So we are engaging the children to enable the mothers to work. We now see that the women who come to us feel happy and can work much better.”
Presently, they have a tie-up with Orchid Hotels, where they provide 4,000 bags made by the women at the Pune centre.
Saket adds, “In the beginning, we would collect clothes and distribute them to the needy. But we have come a long way. Eighty per cent of our work enables us to create financial resources for the women in the organisation,” says Saket.
The organisation actively supports 16 women who make cloth bags which are sold at about Rs 300 per piece, and paper bags which cost Rs 7.
Saket adds, “We have been able to help six women with about Rs 50,000, and the non-monetary impact is the training programme for 25 women. That, for us, is a bigger impact.”
When asked about their plan for the future, Saket concludes, “We intend to set up three more centres in Pune and bring many more women into the fold. We also wish to make them tech-savvy and help sell their creations on various platforms.”
What started from a personal loss has turned into something much bigger, impacting the lives of many women. Here’s wishing Mitti Ke Rang all the very best!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)