Tailoring Training Centre, Converts into a Mask Production Centre | Stories of Resilience

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CONTEXT

Priscilla Centre, a training cum production centre for women based in Guwahati, Assam works with women, school-dropouts, widowed women from the states of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and other neighbouring states on skill training. They conduct two year training programs post which the women who graduate are linked to other advanced skill training institutes. One of the main programs run by them is Sustainable Income Generating Program (SIGAP) focussing on textile based training which is conducted at their training centre in Guwahati and also at other partner grassroot NGOs. Priscilla Centre also has a sister concern which is a for-profit organization that helps with market linkages and selling of the products made by the trainees and graduates – sarees, kurtas, traditional clothing, bags etc. SELCO Foundation partnered with Priscilla to understand their model better and explore sustainable energy interventions in their training centres.

COVID-19 AND RELIEF WORK

The training centre is located in Panbazaar, a main market area in Guwahati city which is under a containment zone due to positive cases that have been detected in the region. Due to this, the trainees and trainers from the city also have not been able to access the sewing machines as they are housed at the centre. All the trainees from neighbouring states like Manipur and Nagaland left for their respective home towns and districts right before the lockdown. This also led to a complete stop of the training program temporarily due to the lockdown.
Meanwhile, a senior tailoring instructor who lives in Guwahati city received a request from Satribari hospital for producing masks, caps and gowns for the hospital staff using the green coloured medical cotton based cloth. Using the sewing machine at her home, she single handedly met the demand of 300 numbers of masks, 100 numbers of caps and 50 numbers of gowns for the hospital within 20 days. The organisation has also received a certificate of acknowledgement on assisting the hospital at this dire time.
In the early days of the lockdown, the organization received a letter from NITI Aayog which states that NGOs have to use their financial resources, staff and skills to complement the government’s efforts. As they received the letter towards the end of March close to the financial year, they had some remaining funds in their organizational account. Utilizing these funds, they could carry out 8 prescribed types of activities out of which they decided to choose two:

  1. Preparing packets of dry rations which they would procure and deliver to villagers nearby. These are being delivered to families with no ration cards due to which they have not been able to access free rations through PDS.
  2. Stitching masks for volunteers, a list of which was provided to them from the district administration.


To carry out the stitching activity, they roped in 4 of their graduates who lived nearby and had sewing machines at home. They did not have any form of livelihood due to the lockdown presently. The organization had a lot of stock cotton fabric which they delivered to the graduates to start stitching masks. Using their funds, they are paying the workers INR 20-25 per mask and they are making 500 masks a week. With the help of the graduates, current demand rate and availability of limited raw
material, the organisation is planning to produce 2500 units of masks for next month. Moreover, if the rate of demand is increased they will keep a repository of stitched new masks. However, to meet this demand there might be a requirement of working capital to procure the raw material.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Entrepreneurial Staff: Due to the entrepreneurial nature of their senior staff and her contacts, she was able to provide critical PPEs to the hospital staff due to which the district administration was able to identify the organization and the potential work they were able to do during the lockdown period.
  • Income for Workers: Their graduates who have no other source of income at the moment, are receiving work through the organization and steady income even during this lockdown perio
Photo taken in 2019, during the inauguration of the Decentralized Solar Powered Rice Mill

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