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Student project to hone bead-making skills of Narikuravar community
Students from Madras School of Social Work have launched an initiative titled ‘Project Nakuras’, that will help women from the community hone the craft of jewellery making from professional designers and artisans.
This will enable them with a stable livelihood and elevate their standard of living. Though we hear empowering stories from the Narikuravar community like an increasing number of youngsters getting employment opportunities, a majority of the people from the community are struggling to survive. For those unaware, Narikuravar is an indigenous community that migrates from place to place across Tamil Nadu. The main occupation of the people, who belong to the indigenous tribes, was jackal hunting at a point of time. But as they were prohibited entry into the forests, they were forced to take up jewellery making for their livelihood. Though they keep shifting localities to find a market for their beads, you can see their settlements in places like Red Hills, Perambur, Tambaram, Kotturpuram and Velachery.
As part of his college project, Devakumar MJ, a second-year post-graduate student from Social Entrepreneurship Department of Madras School of Social Work, was conducting a survey among the Narikuravars living in Kotturpuram. While interacting with the members of the community, he understood their ordeals to make ends meet. “It is so hard for them to earn a livelihood and provide for their families. I wanted to do something for them that would elevate their standard of living. Along with three other students from my department, I started an initiative called ‘Project Nakuras’. Through this, we aim to teach them the nuances in jewellery and crochet making and thereby provide them with a stable livelihood,” says Devakumar. Other members of the project are Sivaranjhani, Sravya and Rithika.
Their main source of income comes from waste collecting, manual scavenging and jewellery making. “They are good at making beautiful bead neckpieces and we thought of making them proficient in what they do as they weren’t updated on new accessory trends. So, we professionally train the women from the community in jewellery (necklaces, rings and anklets) and crochet making. For this, we have collaborated with designers and artisans from across India to teach them,” says Sivaranjhani.
The team sources the raw materials from T Nagar, Parrys and Jaipur and organises training sessions over two-three days. Another major problem the community faces is abuse in physical market spaces. More often, the Narikuravas are not welcomed when they try to sell their products. “Since they are struggling to market their products, we thought of creating an online portal for them. The digital market space will ensure sustainable income as well,” shares Sivaranjhani.
Keeping in mind the community’s rich historical background and the stigmatisation that they have been enduring, the students are keen to create awareness on the existence of Narikuravas. “Apart from this project, we will be focussing on their health aspect too. After interacting with women from the community, we came to know that most of them face health problems. Once they are financially stabilised, we will be expanding our services,” she says.