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NGO to empower Garo Hills artisans with training, support

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TURA, March 18: Artisans in Meghalaya, particularly the Garo Hills region, have been identified by ‘Uthhan’, an NGO, to avail technological training and financial support to help provide an avenue for sale of their artifacts directly to consumers and help give global exposure to their skills which would go a long way in boosting artisans from the region.
“Meghalaya is blessed with authentic handicraft products in segments like weaving, cane, bamboo and wood carving. But the artisans are struggling because of the non-availability of sales avenues post the COVID-19 pandemic. Our immediate priority is to bring onboard these needy artisans, especially from Garo Hills, to our Uthhan platform and thereby give exposure to global consumers,” revealed Pratik Mishra, Uthhan Meghalaya State Coordinator while speaking to The Shillong Times.
Pratik is an alumnus of Garo Hills’ most famous school, Sherwood School in Tura.
According to Pratik Mishra, Uthhan is planning to bring onboard 2,000 plus artisans across other parts of North East after April 2021 for promoting a wider variety of products and will be providing the necessary technical knowhow and financial support to the artisans.
Lending a voice to Pratrik is Uthhan North East Coordinator, Ambit Mishra, who says, “There are so many women artisan self-help groups in Meghalaya who are below the poverty line and need to be revived on an emergency basis. It is very important to bolster the confidence of these women for financial independence.”
‘Uthhan-Empowering Artisans’, a social initiative to empower Indian underprivileged artisans by ensuring profit from artifact & handicraft sales directly to the artisan families without any middlemen has only just begun its operations in Meghalaya.
Uthhan was founded in 2012 by Leemon Ravi and currently empowering around 40,000 plus artisan families across India.
The organisation is currently upgrading artisans in Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha, Tripura, Jharkhand, UP, Bihar, Delhi and West Bengal, states the NGO.
“Even though artisans are the third-largest population in India, they are deprived of basic necessities because of middlemen. The value of their products is not reaching them because of interferences from middlemen. Artisans across India are struggling without tools, raw materials, food & shelter, warehousing and sales. The condition of Indian artisans worsened post COVID since all physical outlets were closed. Many artisans are forced to do labour work for a living. Younger generations of artisans are not taking up the tradition because of lack of income,” points out Pratik Mishra.
To halt this mass exodus, Uthhan started a campaign called ‘Karigar Apnao Sanskriti Bachao Abhiyan’ on August 15 of 2020 to aid artisans across India by providing raw materials, working tools, education, food, donating smartphones & laptops (new and used), health & accidental insurance and medicines besides sanitizers, gloves, masks, etc.
According to the NGO, the campaign has benefitted over 5,000 plus artisan families till now.
More than 30,000 plus artisan products are displayed in the organisation’s website — Uthhan.org — which can be purchased by domestic as well as international customers.
Recently, Cholamandalam, an Investment and Finance Company Limited which is one of India’s largest & oldest financial services giant of the Murugappa Group, joined hands with Uthhan to help these Indian underprivileged artisan through CSR funding.
Through this funding, artisans in eight states across India will get benefits in the coming months.

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