Stories of Change

Shibani - Master of Batik
Shibani holding up a blockprinted saroong from Ankur Kala

Shibani - Master of Batik

Shibani lost her parents at a young age, so missed out on opportunities that should have been available to her. It was when a neighbour noticed her artistic talent when she was arranging decorations for a Puja that she gained a chance to study. The neighbour paid for her to go to a school that taught batik and tailoring for six months. When she graduated she got a job, but it did not pay enough and she had no option but to leave. She returned to her trainer to ask for advice on what to do and the trainer told her about Ankur Kala.

Joining Ankur Kala's Batik department in 1986, Shibani started her two-year training, but she was already very good so started taking orders sooner. Shibani is now a Master of Batik and has taken special training in vegetable dying as well as taking responsibility for the marketing of Ankur Kala’s products. Most girls after their two-year training leave to set up their own units, sometimes independently, sometimes with orders from Ankur Kala and some, like Shibani, remain at Ankur Kala. Now she helps train new girls and acts as a supervisor for all the girls.

Beginning only two years ago, the group have rescued between three hundred and four hundred girls from twenty different villages where girls are being trafficked. The Ankur Kala members have taught these girls crafts and how to sell their products.

Trade Aid capacity building funds from NZAID have been channelled to Ankur Kala into a land project from 2006 through to 2009. Ankur Kala sees this project as a chance to extend its work, as well as providing something different and special for its girls. Annie, the founder of Ankur Kala, explained the value of the land, “Women all live in cramped surroundings in the city so the land is to give the girls somewhere spacious and fresh to go. It is also a place we can grow vegetables organically for the women’s lunches, and next week the girls are going on a picnic out there. The long-term plan is to build cottages so girls can go on a holiday. Holidays are too expensive for most people and this will be free for them. There is a pond on the land where they can grow fish. We have planted cover trees and the plan is to use the organic vegetables to make the jam, sauces and pickles (a product that Ankur Kala produces for the domestic market).”

Shibani says, “The special thing about Ankur Kala is that we are all one large family—we eat together, pray together, and work together. We do fifteen minutes of yoga each day. The prayer is important, we call it Universal spirituality. I had only studied until class six when my parents died so I am lucky to get the special chance.”

Read more about Ankur Kala »

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