Under a special initiative — Project Aarambh, taken up by the students of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, evacuees from Burma are now able to sustain a comfortable life in Delhi. The project helps these members of the Burmese community, who live in West Delhi, to make bags, handicrafts, and thus earn a living.
“They always had the skills. Their art of weaving shawls and bags with traditional designs and patterns is typical to the community ,” says Abhishek Jain, team leader of the IIT student team that’s helping out in the project. The project, which was started in December last year, took two months to develop its current form, and now, the members work with more than 500 displaced Burmese residing in the Janak Puri and Vikas Puri areas of the Capital.
“Our project aims to economically empower these people. We have been working with women-based small handicraft entrepreneurial units in the evacuee community, promoting their traditional arts. We have even collaborated with Dastakar,” says Jain.
The students have also established a placement cell to train and place the displaced Burmese in various handicraft based firms. “Till now, we have trained and registered 50 evacuees and placed 15 of them,” adds Jain.
For Lalehang Liana, who is currently working in an export house in Sitapuri, the training session organised by Aarambh changed his life. “The training session was informative and we were told about what to do and not to do at a workplace,” says Liana.
The people employed under the project say that they no more feel discriminated. “Burmese people work for long hours, but get less wages. But, this initiative has helped us a lot,” says Zaute, who has worked with the cell for three months now. They also hold small scale exhibitions and display their work — handwoven shawls, wallets, bags, file folders and diary covers at various locations in the city.
Other such initiatives by students
Under the Delhi Chapter of the project called New Socialist Initiative (NSI), students and teachers of Delhi University and other colleges come together to fight for causes like equal rights for North East students, gender equality and more.
Formed by the North Eastern students studying in Delhi, a group named - Stop Discriminating Against the People of North East India - works for equal rights of these students. The group holds talks, seminars and raises funds for music concerts.
As a part of the curriculum of Delhi University, students have to get enrolled in the National Service Scheme and work with the under privileged sections of the society