Creating Livelihoods in Ghazipur Story behind 2016 Calendars of Gulmeher Collective

One of the social initiatives of Ghazipur WtE Plant is 'Gulmeher'. In May 2013 Gulmeher training center was established next to the Ghazipur slums. Here Female members of the rag - picking community learn vocational skills including crafting corporate gifts from recycled paper and wounded waste flowers.

In 2013 as a part of extended commitment to the community around WtE plant in Ghazipur, IL&FS started various CSR initiatives in the slum near the landfill, largely the families in the slum depended on waste-picking. With a support of IDS our partner NGO, IL&FS rolled out the livelihood and social initiatives in Ghazipur. Gulmeher is a collaborative program that was shaped together by women from the slum, IDS and designers from NIFT with support from IL&FS. It is a waste-pickers’ collective that designs and markets various handicraft products.

Gulmeher’s artisans are women, who used to segregate waste on the third largest dumpsite of the Capital. Today, they are shareholders of the Gulmeher Green Producer Company Limited that allows them to earn their daily income in a safe, hygienic and dignified environment of Gulmeher. Since 2013, the number of people going to the dumpsite has dropped from 290 to 197. The Waste to Energy power plant absorbed 76 former waste pickers and Gulmeher employs 20 women full time and 23 women part time as artisans. The goal is to upgrade the skills of the Ghazipur community and improve their quality of life. Gulmeher envisions a future of more opportunities and economic freedom for the future generation of Ghazipur so that no woman or child has to resort to waste picking in the future.

The Gulmeher Livelihood Centre anchors all the livelihood and social initiatives. Women come to the centre to work 6 - 8 hours a day and are exposed to the array of workshops and awareness drives. Offering programs based upon the community’s needs, the Centre functions as an area resource centre for the community hosting services such as regular health check-up camps, womens health awareness workshops, financial literacy programs etc.

The first livelihood stream constitutes mobilizing and training women in making handicraft products such as corporate gifts, wall hangings, folders, notepads, diaries, calendars, dried flower colors, greeting cards, jewelry boxes, decorated with discarded flowers from the Ghazipur whole sale flower market. The concept is to engage women waste – pickers in an activity that shows the value that can be generated by materials usually considered to be waste and empower them to take command of their livelihood and make the brand self-sustainable.

Gulmeher’s innovative designs are created by its in house designer from National Institute of Fashion Technology. The designer is involved in every aspect of the production from design conceptualization, training of women to quality control to ensure the products meet the quality criteria of Gulmeher’s brand.

Gulmeher is committed to the green agenda and believes that creating beautiful products can go hand in hand with environmental and social development. The concept is to find value from waste and empower one of the most marginalized people of society. All of Gulmeher’s stationery products such as note pads and diaries are made using handmade paper. Born out of the need for recycled handmade paper to supplement the handicraft unit, the paper making unit is a recent addition to the center. The waste paper is collected from IL&FS Delhi offices as well as from the Ghazipur area. The technology and initial training has been provided by NGO TARA.In the last three years, Gulmeher has acted as a catalyst in weaning women off waste picking. It has sold products worth 20 lakhs in last 3 years.

One of the most popular products is the Gulmeher calendars of 2014 and 2015 made with real flower decorations. One of its most popular products is the Gulmeher calendars of 2014 and 2015 made with real flower decorations.

The 2016 calendar is going to go beyond and encompass sustainability themes aligned to the Millennium Development Goals developed by the working group of the UN Conference of Sustainable Development (Rio+20). These include:

1. Food Security 2. Water & Sanitation 3. Energy for all 4. Sustainable cities 5. Conservation of Marine Life 6. Protect Ecosystems

To place your order for the 2016 calendar please refer to Gulmeher contact details below. Orders can be placed now for delivery in November. Gulmeher is happy to co-brand the calendar with its clients by placing their logo alongside its own. Final print will be carried out after the client company’s approval on electronic copy.

You may also like to consider the Gulmeher Diwali Gift pack for Rs 900. Each pack contains two handcrafted boxes; one sliding box with six hand-made festive Diyas and One floral designed condiment box perfect for presenting sweets or dry fruits, a set of four artisan coasters in a festive recycled gift bag.

The third livelihood stream; a low cost Sanitary Napkin making unit partnership with NGO Aakar, was set up in 2014. The unit consists of fifteen women working in two shifts, producing regular as well as bio degradable napkins. Aakar has provided the training to the women and is also helping with marketing of the product. The initiative has sold about Rs 1 Lakh worth of products. The women are trained as hygiene champions that impart knowledge and raise awareness on the importance of menstrual hygiene in their community. They are encouraged to be entrepreneurial and also market the napkins themselves.

In addition, a Crèche was established to provide the women artists of Gulmeher with safe and efficient child care, allowing mothers to pursue livelihood opportunities. The crèche ran from 2012 to 2014 for children between 0- 6 years. The physical and mental development of each child was monitored against UNICEF guidelines. It provided early childhood education, meals and, immunizations and periodic health check-ups. The crèche has helped 43 children of age enroll into the local government school.

However, due to the high rate of children dropping out of school, and tendency for low school attendance in the community, two education programs have been set up with IETS to target age groups between 5 –14. The first program addresses children who are out of school and helps to bring them to the education level of their peers before mainstreaming them into government schools. The second program helps children already enrolled in school perform better by providing them with bridge schooling in English, Hindi and Mathematics. The program currently runs in three batches and has enrolled 122 children. At the same time, a sports program for children between 6 – 14 years has commenced with Sportseed to help children learn these skills in a supportive environment, keeping them engaged in childhood activities. To address the banking needs of the artisans and community, a community service point was set up with Indepay in the Gulmeher Centre to cater to the banking needs of 8000 migrant laborers in the area including the dairy farm and whole sale markets. The services offered cater to the wholesalers and small traders providing them remittance facilities, cash deposit and withdrawal, zero balance account openings, financial literacy workshops and individual linkages to applicable government schemes including savings plans, and insurance schemes.



Livelihoods

 


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