Jan Swasthya Sahyog

Project: Generating Livelihood for Adolescent Girls
Location: Bilaspur and Mungeli Districts, Chhattisgarh
Category: Training and Income Generation

Training Young Seamstresses

Jan Swasthya Sahyog (JSS) is a nonprofit organization that has worked for the past 16 years in rural areas of Bilaspur and Mungeli districts of Chhattisgarh. The vocational training for young women in the use of sewing machines began in March 2015 as a pilot program. IDS funding was used in 2017 to organize the training of adolescent girls in five locations.

Jan Swasthya Sahyog’s Livelihood Project was successful in instilling a sense of economic empowerment in its young participants. A subgroup of girls who had already gone through the basic training learned this year to construct and embellish small bags. Many of these bags were offered for sale at a local conference, where they got a warm reception from buyers. The revenue from the test marketing was re-invested in training.

Young girls have begun to earn money by catering to the local sewing needs of their villages. They have worked on jobs from the JSS hospital. They also sew for their own needs, using their new skills to gain a sense of accomplishment. Even though skills like sewing (by hand or machine), mending, and embroidery may not provide a steady income, the girls earn enough to supplement the family income and build their self-confidence. There were even a few girls whose class attendance suffered because they preferred to stay home to work on their own sewing jobs!

JSS looks forward to establishing a connection to the market, but this will probably require more manpower. Having a dedicated marketing person on staff would be necessary to make the project sustainable. At the moment, there is only one master trainer; she devotes about four months a year to training. She lives in Uttar Pradesh and must travel long distances to the villages to teach. JSS hopes to find a good local trainer to boost the success of the program.

Challenges included obtaining the sewing machines for the students; one lucky girl received one from a private donor, but the rest must share machines. More staff members are needed, both to train students and to develop a marketing apparatus for their handcrafted products. In the future, JSS hopes to expand the sewing training to more villages in the target area and to collaborate with another NGO to provide even more vocational training.

IDS Coordinator: Nila Vora
Project Manager: Dr. Raman Kataria

–2017 IDS annual report