The Handloom School
With the informal launch of The Handloom School in Maheshwar in January 2013, WW built on its earlier training programs in “barefoot” business, computer skills, English, and design to begin a more holistic, progressive and formalized curriculum that supports, nurtures and incubates a young generation of weaver-entrepreneurs. Through a generous three-year grant of Rs. 1.21 crores from Tata Trusts, The Handloom School was formally launched in February 2015, with an inaugural batch of 15 students.
Visit www.thehandloomschool.org for more information on this unique initiative of WomenWeave.
The history of the iconic Maheshwar sari is built upon innovation and the cross fertilisation of ideas. The tradition of weaving in this ancient temple town dates back to the 5th century. However, weaving only truly flourished during the reign of Maratha Queen Ahilyabhai Holkar in the 18th century. Ahilyabhai invited master weavers from Surat as well as South India to Maheshwar, in order for them to work together. Through this collaborative process the weavers created an exquisite new hybrid of gossamer-fine handloom that to this day remains iconic of this small town in central India.
In continuity with this rich cultural history, WomenWeave’s Synergy Programme supports design and marketing assistance for traditional weavers and hand block printers. This ongoing programme encourages exciting new working relationships amongst weavers, block-printers, dyers, designers, and retailers from across India. This helps the artisans
to meet consumers’ desires for innovative fabrics, especially in the higher-end fashion segments.
WomenWeave impacts traditional weavers of Maheshwar and Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh and Kota in Rajasthan. WomenWeave also has an informal partnership with NGO's promoting handloom in several states of India for design and marketing of a variety of weaves.
Similarly, WomenWeave also works with the hand block printers producing Bagh in Madhya Pradesh, Ajrak (Bhuj) in Gujarat and Dabu in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
See To Weave
Imagine if you desperately need reading glasses but couldn’t afford to purchase them? Eyesight plays a vital role in the lives of weavers, but eye care is commonly neglected due to lack of money and affordable Optometrist services. The capacity to clearly see the loom, to assess colours, and to inspect the quality of very detailed work can make the difference between success and failure for a weaver. Poor vision results in slower weaving time, headaches, and mistakes that can cost weavers vital money and even their means of earning a livelihood altogether. WW aims to improve the quality of life of weavers by conducting sight preservation camps in selected weaving centers. Since 2003, under the See To Weave programme, WomenWeave has organized eye camps on a regular basis in Kota-Rajasthan, Chanderi, and Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh.
Recently, WW has trained 5 staff members from the Maheshwar team through Vision Spring, a USA-based NGO working worldwide to provide training, testing equipment, and glasses. The trainees need not necessarily be well-educated; they can be trained to work out eye screening activity and dispense the glasses at a subsidised cost. Having now trained a WW team at the Maheshwar base, this will enable WW to conduct eye camps in many weaving areas of India.
Day Care Creche & Child education Initiative
When you enter the compound of WW’s Gudi Mudi weaving centre in Maheshwar, the first thing you will see is a large open room with a group of children happily drawing, painting or dancing, supervised by our dedicated crèche co-ordinator.
Our simple day care creche is provided for the children of spinners and weavers working with Gudi Mudi. Whilst their Mothers and Aunts work, the children are safe and happy, and given activities to help engage and stimulate their cognitive and emotional development. This early childhood education of more than 130 youngsters is sponsored by WW.
For the Women, knowing that their children are safe, close-by, and well-taken care of, is invaluable. It enables our women weavers to concentrate free from worry, on learning, training and optimising their livelihood opportunities as part the Gudi Mudi project.