Who We Are: Background
The northern territories of India are known for their grandness: the ancient temples and monuments, origins of major rivers like the Ganga, and the magnificent Himalayan range. These places have also withstood the awesome power of one of the most unfortunate floods in Indian history.
The infamous flood of the summer of June 2013 induced an intense amount of rainfall within a matter of days, the heaviest being on June 16th, and caused severe damage.
The rains were so heavy that they caused part of the Chorabari Glacier to melt and form the Mandakini River to burst, and with all this combined water, havoc was wreaked, especially in the state of Uttarakhand.
Among massive landslides and fast-flowing water, thousands of people died and many more lost their homes and sources of livelihoods. For a mere few days, heavy rains occurred, yet those ill-fated days have caused this area to suffer the consequences even now.
Mandakiini Mahila Bunkar Samiti (MMBS) came into existence in the year 2014 after divesting floods wreaked havoc in the upper reaches of the Garhwal Himalaya in the north India state of Uttarakhand on June 16, 2013. Thousand died, infrastructure was destroyed, and the local economy derived almost entirely from religious tourism, was left in tatters.
The Mandakini valley, home to the ancient Shiva temple of Kedarnath, was worst hit. Hardly any village in the area was untouched by the disaster. Household lost their main breadwinners, women were widow, agriculture field and animal simply vanished. A way of life that had sustained the region for a generation had come undone.
MMBS has formed a group of 300 women and the elderly have been training in spinning, weaving and knitting and are now producing beautiful high-quality products for the market. (please visit http://youtb.be/zLzM93k19sY). The main objective of MMBS is to rebuild livelihood and promote self-sustaining handloom-based livelihood for disasters affected families and also link them to the mainstream market for sustainable income.
A key factor in the rehabilitation of the communities has been the re-introduction of traditional craft skills of the region, weaving and spinning, in particular, is becoming a thriving cottage industry. The women of the Kedarnath valley have shown how quiet resilience and courage in the face of impossible odds can turn around a seemingly hopeless situation. The rugged mountains reflect the spirit of the Uttarakhand women, indomitable and tough. It is the women who will be the catalysts of change for a better future. A future where cottage industry in the form of handloom, craft, and agro-based products become the basis of a sustainable economy, and women are empowered economically and socially.
Origin of the program
In June of 2013 a disastrous flood took place throughout much of Northern India, and especially among the hill communities in Uttarakhand. Hundreds of people lost their lives and many more lost their source of livelihood (i.e. guest homes for tourism) because it was literally washed away with the torrential flowing waters.
With the loss of working family members and the source of income, these communities were in a distraught economic state, beyond the environmental and personal trauma that occurred. Thus the Mandakini Mahila Bunker Samiti (MMBS) was established out of the response of this natural disaster. The name Mandakini stems from the name of the very river that caused intense destruction in this area, and the NGO decided to use the name as a source of remembrance and revival.
This restoration initiative was implemented through the production of handloom weaving. It is not a traditional skill in this region and required 1.5 years of skill-building to teach the local women how to weave and create a unique pattern with different materials (i.e. wool, cotton, silk).
Since then over 300 women across 8 different villages have learned the skills of weaving, using a loom, assisting in fabric structure, and more! Not only has a new and viable source of livelihood been established but it is a program dedicated to the empowerment of the local women! They are learning a useful and marketable skill, and are economically self-sufficient more than they ever were before.
The efforts of MMBS are dedicated to establishing a sustainable source of livelihood for the people in Rudraprayag District and are encouraging the local women to be at the forefront of this work.
The vision is to empower women economically and socially and set up a vibrant entrepreneurial business model for handlooms and handicraft
To empower disaster-affected women of Kedar valley of Uttarakhand by promoting handlooms as a major industry which is sustainable through linking local, domestic & international marketing
To achieve the economic rehabilitation of disaster-affected families in disaster-affected villages of Kedar valley of Rudraprayag
Objective of the program
To promote self-sustaining handloom-based livelihood for disasters affected families and link end market that will generate a minimum monthly income of INR 3000 to maximum monthly income INR 6000 per month per stakeholder.
To form a new company under section 25 for forwarding linkages ensuring the sustainability of the project and facilitate the integration of disasters affected families into the wider economy through development value chains of the handloom sector
Providing productivity enhancing, cost-effective technologies, training & services for sustainable enterprise development
MMBS is working eight most deserter affected village of Ukhimath block district Rudraprayag of Uttarakahnd state.
MMBS developed handloom value chain and total 300 beneficiaries are engaged in handloom based livelihood out of which 200 moved in commercial production. MMBS also create good infrastructure for handloom based livelihood activities i.e weaving center 3, spinning centre 4, finishing washing and packaging etc.
Even within a matter of 3 years, MMBS has made significant achievements and strides, so much so that they have received the Best Woman Entrepreneur Award from the State Government of Uttarakhand. Yet the successes within are what really count for this weaving and women focused organization.
In the beginning, the women were only receiving a stipend for their work because the first year and a half were dedicated to training them in this handloom skill. Now it is an earning job that ranges between 3000-5600 every month for the Mandakini Handloom Manufacturers & weavers, and with the determination to keep increasing it! Even the product range has grown significantly from 4-5 pieces to currently 20 products and counting. MMBS is still young as an organization but it is thriving, and with determination and ample support it will surely grow!
Products & Design Development:
Mandakini Weavers had developed the new design in shawls and stoles, muffler scarves, fabric and also in different colour combination. The design and product have developed to involving the master weavers who in turn to train the weavers on the particular design for weaving. In addition, the design is being improved based on the suggestions of the designer. The master weaver is in consultation with designers to develop the samples/swatches for marketing purpose.
An alternative livelihood opportunity is shaping up in the area. Under the guidance of different technical agency and MMBS, women are feeling very empowered and confident and also a lessoning opportunity with related government and Non-government agency.
Infrastructure /facility developed.
During the three year period MMBS developed good infrastructure which includes three weaving center at Bhanigram, Dewali and Triyuginarayan. The main administration block is under construction at lamgoundi with the support of the Tata Relief committee under Uttarakhand program.
There is a Board of Directors within the Mandakini NGO. This is comprised of eight members, representatives from each village that is involved with this weaving program. Seven are women and one is a man. Within this inner governing body there is a president, treasurer, secretary, and additional members. Quarterly meetings are organized and lead by BoD to discuss issues within MMBS and discern ways to tackle these challenges.
Support Partners/ Agency
The Uttarakhand Women and Child Development Society Government of Uttarakhand also support for procure equipment, raw material. Mandakini Weavers NGO is also supported by American India Foundation, CII Foundation, Divine Shakti Foundation Tata relief Committee, THDC-SEWA, Vision 2020 and Exhim Bank to create production units, administrative to start the program
MBBS has been able to establish a good rapport with District Industry Center of State Govt, Weavers Service Center of Govt of India, etc. Also, a very good rapport has been established with the District Administration, State Administration of Uttarakhand as the Chief Minister of Uttaranchal Mr. Harish Rawat was also very impressed with the Nobel initiative of MMBS and came to inaugurate the Bhanigram Production Center in April 2015. Also, MMBS has been able to establish good linkages with experienced NGOs, technical experts of related sectors and other agencies.
This linkage has also been very useful in developing the skills of the women entrepreneurs in Kedar Valley. MMBS also able to developed network with Khadi and Village Industries for Raw material and also marketing support, District Industrial Center Rudraprayag for promotional and welfare schemes for the Mandakini Handloom weavers such as health insurance, credit card facilities and Weavers Service Center Chamoli for inputs regarding dyeing, design development, exhibition sale etc.
Registered under Society registration act 1860 and registration No GRP/1608/03/2013-14 dated 22nd January 2014 and MMBS also registered in NITI Ayoag: UID-UA/2016/0112926
PAN:AAEAM0352Q GST Registration: 05AAEAM0352Q1ZG FCRA Registration no:
347950013 registered under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 section 11(1)
Your Contribution to Rebuilding Lives in the Kedar Valley
While organizations such as Mandakini Mahila Bunker Samiti (MMBS) provide the infrastructure and training required to skill women who wish to be part of this movement to rebuild their lives, their real sense of worth comes from you.
These are not women who wish for charity or governmental support. They are individuals who are dedicated to their craft and want to earn every rupee for their skill and creativity. You can provide that sense of satisfaction and pride to every woman working here, by buying and wearing their handicraft.