Fifteen-year-old Priyanka Chauhan's mother works as a domestic help and so does her elder sister but she is crafting her destiny differently. A Class IX student, Chauhan has been able to help augment her family's income by selling handmade cards, envelopes and bookmarks.
A group of students from Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), Delhi University, are helping housewives and school going girls aged between 14 and 18 years avail of sustainable earning opportunities, through vocational skill development.
The college's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) society started the initiative called 'Crafting their Destiny' in November 2009. The initial funding from the project came from the society members.
Around ten girls from Nihal Vihar, West Delhi are being trained in arts and craft.
The students have also tied up with an NGO in Okhla where another group of girls are being imparted the same skills.
The girls are provided basic raw materials like chart papers, colours, glue and decorative items.
The students, as well as a professional group 'The Crafts Room', hold workshops twice a week, where the girls are trained to make colourful cards, bookmarks and envelopes.
"I feel very good when my work is not only appreciated but it also helps me earn some money and help my family," said Sharda Sharma (18), a resident of Nihal Vihar.
"The idea behind the initiative is to make them financially independent. Initially the products were sold at the college. But we have now tied up with retailers and once the products are ready we sell it to them. Forty-five per cent of the money earned is used for raw materials and marketing and the rest is distributed among the girls," said Ashima Gupta, second-year B.com (H) student of the college.
The products are priced between Rs 10 and 25.
"The response from the retailers has been good since there is a lot of demand for hand made products. Once a market is created, gradually the girls will deal with the retailers directly," added Gupta.
Apart from 'The Shop' in Connaught Place, a shop each in Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Nainital sell the products made by these girls.
"It is great to see the enthusiasm and commitment of students to making a difference in society. Seeing the success of the project, we have tied up with three corporate houses who will purchase the products made by these girls for Diwali," said Abhay Kumar, Assistant Professor and Faculty Advisor of SIFE.