Baladarshan was created in 2002, initially to promote and export handcrafts made by disadvantaged people from Chennai slums trained by SPEED Trust (Slum People Education & Economic Development). Baladarshan extended its partnership progressively to many other NGOs and Fair Trade companies from South India, always with the aim of supporting the programs of SPEED Trust with the proceeds from the sales. Baladarshan has been approved as a member by the WFTO in 2010.
SPEED Trust is the humanitarian organization closely linked to Baladarshan. It began in 1999 in the Sathyavani Muthu Nagar & Gandhi Nagar slums of Chennai to support socially and economically deprived women, particularly widowed and deserted mothers, and provide education and vocational training for their children.
The first program implemented by SPEED was a tailoring course specially dedicated to young girls who had dropped out of school. Over the last 10 years SPEED has trained many young women in tailoring, offering them a sewing machine at the end of their one year course so they can start their own business at home. At the same time, SPEED Trust has continued its education efforts, and nowadays 90% of the children in the area attend school.
In 2007, SPEED started a new project, Varnajalam, the first design store located in a slum, to market handcrafts made by the women trained in tailoring and basketry. Varnajalam employs women from the slum formerly trained by SPEED, making crafts from recycled materials and selling them directly from the showroom or through distributors in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, or exporting via Baladarshan.
The recycled rexine billboard accessories are stitched by young women, former students of SPEED trust tailoring school, and now employed by Varnajalam. The tailors are paid on daily wages basis at the rate of INR 130 per day. Since they all live in the slum where Varnajalam is located, they do not have to spend money for their transport. The youngest children are taken care by SPEED's creche, which also pays school fees for the older ones. All the tailors are covered by free medical insurance.
Asha (in black):
"My name is Asha, 25yrs old. I have completed eighth standard. It was in the year 2001 I Joined Tailoring class as I found it to be more interesting then studying. It was 1-year training. In the year 2003 SPEED Trust got me a Sewing machine. I used to stitch order pieces (Cloth) for various purposes. In 2004, I got married. I have 2 children, a boy and a girl. After marriage, I used to stitch clothes for people in the slum and made some petty money.
Working at the sewing workshop helps me to support my family financially and live independently for my personal and Children needs. MY husband and in-laws appreciate my work and glad that I am able to support them in a way to live a good standard of life. Another advantage of working here is the distance. Since it is located within the slum, I am able to go to work easily and get back home on time to carry out my household works and look after my children."
Kamatchi (in red):
"My name is Kamatchi, 27yrs old. I have completed Seventh standard. Due to family problem, I discontinued my studies and worked in a screen printing company for a less salary. It was in the year 2006 I Joined Tailoring class. It was the same year my husband abandons me and married to another woman. I have two Children, 1 boy and a girl. In the year 2003, I got married, since after my husband left I decided to go for tailoring work to make money and look after my children.
SPEED Trust enrolled me in the family program to support my children's education. I was initially working as Coolie laborer. In the year 2007 SPEED Trust got me a sewing machine. I used to stitch clothes for the people in the slum for a minimal wage. In the year 2010, I joined the Sewing Workshop. Working here gives me peace and helps me earn money to run the family. it was a hard job to work as a coolie laborer. Being a tailor reduces my physical burden.
It is easier for me to get back home on time to cook for my children and look after them, since the workshop is located within the slum. I am living for my children and would like to continue the job to look after the family."
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