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My name is Purnima Tiwari and I work as a Supervisor for I was a Sari at Animedh Charitable Trust(ACT). ACT is a Mumbai based NGO and one of the strategic production partner for I was a Sari.

Before joining ACT, I was unemployed for 3 years, having lost the job of a nurse. It was a challenge to make ends meet, bringing up my two daughters and taking care of my mother who is dependent on me as my husband does not contribute to household finances. However, I was determined to make things work and luckily for me, things fell in place.

I joined ACT in 2017 through their course called Saksham – a free garment construction and advanced tailoring course for underprivileged women. Through this programme, not only you learn the skill but also get income generation opportunities. I have never worked independently before this and my family was a bit reluctant about me going out and fending for myself, but I convinced them somehow and began my journey.

Soon when I completed the training, started getting work through I was a Sari and it was great to learn how to make new products. I realized I had a natural flair for pattern-making and overall production work. Gradually, I started helping other women learn how to stitch products and now I supervise the overall production for I was a Sari. Through I was a Sari, many women who complete the training are now directly starting to earn a respectable income and contribute to the household finances, a new found respect in the family follows.

It has made me extremely confident and now I take charge of household expenses. I pay for the tuition of my daughter and also take care of my mother without asking for any financial support. And I really like the fact that I have gained knowledge, and now I have so many new friends here.

Given a chance, I would open another income generation center close to my house as there are many more women wanting such opportunities but due to restriction at home cannot move farfrom where they live, secluding them from a chance to have a life out of the home and a better future.

From a student learning stitching to now supervising the entire production for I was a Sari, the journey has been full of joy, knowledge and hard work. I hope more women can find the path to financial independence because the woman (in so many roles in the family, including that of the mother) is the biggest change-maker in the society.

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