" Bringing papermaking to women's groups has been a very exciting and enriching experience."
Looking for sources for my raw material, I made contact with NGOs mainly in rural areas of South India involved with various rural women's health issues, income generating schemes and fiber craft. in the fibre craft sector, i felt that papermaking was a great way to use the waste fiber generated from their mat, bag or basket making. This interaction with rural women's groups has been a very exciting and enriching experience for me.
Beluku Trust, Kanakpura
Beluku, is an NGO that does research in mother & child health in Kanakpura outside Bangalore. When some of the poorer women came to them looking for a way to supplement their income, Beluku asked me to do a papermaking workshop. Thus Kirana was born. This group of 8-10 women, now have a modest workshop making paper from household waste paper and agricultural waste fibers. They produce an interesting range of embossed paper bags, cards and gift bags that have a tiny but loyal customer base in the US, UK and Australia. They have recently acquired a small pulp beater and will be upgrading their products and techniques with a little help form my team.
Kasai Ki Chhali, Ahmedabad
After the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, I had an enlightening encounter
teaching Muslim girls in a riot affected community in Ahmedabad, to make paper and paper products. The project has had many hurdles but is still alive, and the group leader Sulekha, trained in my studio for a few months in 2005 and returned to ahmedabad to set up an NGO of her own called Arzoo, making & marketing paper products”.
Shama Pawar of The Kishkinda Trust, works with the women in the ancient, beautiful village of Anegundi, making beautiful products from banana fibre. I did papermaking workshops with the groups there, to convert their waste fibre into handmade paper. Paper has remained a small part of their project but meanwhile, a new rural tourism project is underway that will hopefully put Anegundi on the map, making it a cultural destination for visitors to Hampi, who are looking for something more than just history.
Through 2006-07, my studio was home to an informal school for the children of building construction workers who lived on a site opposite my studio. These are usually migrant communities that move where they find work, as a result of which their children are never in a place long enough to go to regular school. I employed a teacher and classes were held daily for upto 40 children who learnt to read, write, sing and dance. They also participated in sports and cultural events organized by NGOs working with underprivileged children. They have moved away this year, but the school was a great success.