Srinagar: The National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) UMEED scheme changed the living condition of Asmat and her sisters belonging to an underprivileged family when their dedication, devotion and hard work bore fruits and enabled them to set up a crafted cooper smith unit in Singhpora Pattan in north Kashmir district of Baramulla.
The three sisters from a humble family background organised a group of 12 underprivileged girls of the same locality and brought them under the centrally sponsored scheme UMEED by setting up the copper unit where crafted (Kandkari) utensils of different shapes and sizes are made to earn a decent livelihood.
These girls and the products they produce are not only being praised by the villagers of Singhpora but recently Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Monaj Sinha too was highly impressed after going through their products during an interaction at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex (SKICC) and assured them to be trained outside the state so that these utensils could be sold out all across the country.
Asmat, a 24-year-old group head, narrated to UNI as to how she chose the all male dominated copper smith occupation despite all odds and got tremendous success to explore it in a big way.
‘With the help of UMEED scheme funding I started a copper smith crafting unit along with my two other sisters at a time when we were passing through odd times of our lives. We administered proper training from our maternal uncle Farooq Ahmad who has a similar shop in Singhpora’ she added.
She said, ‘we choose this profession with no other choice and I sent my younger sister Binat-Ul-Islam to uncle’s house to receive proper training who later taught us at home and we picked up 12 more young girls from the vicinity to start a unit successfully’.
The group leader said initially UMEED provided us a loan of Rs 15,000 in 2015 for the unit and later we expanded our business and took further loan of Rs 50,000 from the bank under this scheme. We purchased copper utensils from the market and did craft carving (Kandkari) work to make them look attractive.
She said in the meantime we set up our own shop at Singhpora Pattan where we are selling these products.
Notably, copper utensils are traditionally used in Kashmir valley and Wazwan cuisine is served in the big and small plates with Kandkari work done on the face.
Asmat said when she started a copper smith crafting job, the villagers in the vicinity used to say that it is a job of men how could they do it with their soft fragile hands. But we stood and made ourselves strong and with the dedication we succeeded in our mission.
She said same villagers are now praising our hard work and supporting us all the time.
Asmat while narrating her family problems said, ‘ A time came in the family when We all had to leave our studies just to earn livelihood, but by the grace of Almighty we started studies again through Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) after setting up the unit by the help of UMEED’.
Asmat is in third year doing her graduation in Arts while her sisters are also carrying forward their studies through IGNOU. Their lone brother is doing a Theatre Assistant (OT) course through Kashmir University.
“Yes we are getting orders from the self help groups and other individual parties” Asmat said and added our monthly income is about Rs 25000 to Rs 30000 which is more than sufficient to meet our family expenses.
She said we appealed to Lt Governor Monaj Sinha to provide us machinery and training for expanding our unit so that our utensils could be sold outside the valley.
‘We have been assured of all help by Mr Sinha during the recently held interaction at SKICC in Srinagar’ she further added.
Asmat appeals to all sisters of the valley to be self skilled so that they can earn by their own hands and should not depend on any one in their life.
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