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Karbi women near KNP stitch way of life with tailoring skills

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, August 5: In its passionate pursuit to empower indigenous tribal women of Kohora-Karbi Anglong landscape near Kaziranga National Park with livelihood options so as to reduce their dependency on forest resources, Aaranyak (www.aaranyak.org) have facilitated training for 35 tribal women of the area in basin training on tailoring in batches since 2021.

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In order to upscale the skill of these 35 women, the biodiversity conservation organisation Aaranyak, assessed their level of skill during 25-29 July last on the basis of experience and passion, and selected seven best skilled among them for taking part in the second level of advance training on tailoring at the Community Resource Center, Chandra Sing Rongpi Village, Kohora in Karbi Anglong on the southern fringe of Kaziranga National Park.

“Trainees would receive five days of training a month from the in-house trainer, who will stay with the community for next three months. The trainer Ms Mallika Ali from Jorhat is an experienced tailor who has been running her household on the income she generates from her profession”, said an Aaranyak official coordinating the training.

In the first batch three Karbi women – Kareng Rongpipi, Larlyn Engtipi, and Sanjina Engtipi from Kohora River Basin Area, and Difloo River Basin — joined the advance training workshop. It began with a refresher on how to take care of the machine, measurement rules, and drawing the measurement on chart paper. By the end of the second day, the team had moved on to cutting cloth and stitching blouses. As the week progressed, the women added more layers of designs.

The Aaranyak official says, “The minimum cost of stitching a simple-design blouse today is around Rs 350. Women in the Karbi ethnic group wear matching blouses with their Pini-Pekok (women”s clothing). It is also common for tailors to charge at least 250-300 rupees to stitch a kurta or pants.”

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Another group of four women with intermediate skills, were also trained by Ms Ali in the evening batch. They would be taught basic tips on measurement in the first week of the first month, as well as drawing and putting measurements on paper and cloth and adding layers of design – necks, pockets, sleeves, and fittings to kurtas they started with. As the fifth day progressed, these women confidently and cheerfully stitched their blouses and kurtas. Following every training trainees are also encouraged to complete homework and given assignments.

A variety of initiatives have been undertaken by Aaranyak to empower community women in these fringe areas of Kaziranga National Park. Aaranyak has been working with a community-based Natural Resource Management (NRM) initiative in Karbi Anglong district with an aim to safeguard biodiversity and facilitate human well-being simultaneously.

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