18 November 2005, Amritapuri
60 Women came to Amritapuri this past Friday to receive their diplomas after completing a 3-month special training course in embroidery, footwear, leather goods, and readymade garments manufacturing. The event marked yet another milestone in the path envisioned by Amma in the wake of the Tsunami – creating self-reliant villages through the Matru Gramam Project.
Samples of the women’s efforts surrounded the gathering. Colorful dresses and intricately embroidered cloths were displayed along with school uniforms, backpacks, pencil kits, purses, shawls, children’s clothing, and men’s and women’s footwear. The high quality items were a testament to the women’s dedication and enthusiasm.
The women were selected to take this course because they had excelled in the basic training classes previously offered by the Ashram. They are being encouraged to use their newly obtained skills to start their own businesses, form co-operatives, or seek outside employment.
Swami Jnanamritananda, who is heading the Matru Gramam Project, spoke to the women in words that reflected Amma’s goal to awaken the suppressed and hidden strengths in women: ”Now is the time to move forward with the full confidence that not only can you support yourselves as individuals, you can support both your husband and children as well. In today’s society, women are used to depending on their husbands for support. You should recognize your own inner strengths and overcome this.”
Sabitha (age 30), Sumegha (22), and Subhi (26) were three of the women who received their diplomas in leather goods and footwear. All had their homes destroyed in last December’s tsunami, and have been living in temporary shelters at Srayikkad. With her newly obtained diploma, Sabitha is both excited and hopeful: ”I hope to find a job now that I have the diploma to show that I have completed the necessary coursework and have the proper skills.”
Laiju (age 24) is equally enthusiastic: ”I’m looking forward to starting a small cooperative with other women in the village so that we can bring more income to our families. My husband’s fishing business was destroyed by the Tsunami and he is still unemployed. The added income will help us make ends meet.”
Watching the women disperse, one could only imagine the new lives and livelihoods that will soon blossom as they head into the next chapter of their lives.