KOCHI: The Kottapuram Integrated Development Society (KIDS) situated at Kottapuram near Kodungalloor was able to tap creativity and ensure the survival of artisans by creating products ranging from screw pine and water hyacinth. It is now spreading its wings to create bamboo products that is expected to have a larger reach and benefit more people.
KIDS has carved a niche for itself by getting 24 differently-abled, 22 of them women, out of their dark shells, to become artisans and lead a dignified life. “Currently we have 220 artisans, 205 of whom are women. We have so far trained over 3,000 people into artisans in over one and a half decades,” said Mercy Thomas, KIDS administrator.
“Even star hotels including Le Meridian in Kochi have come forward to set up permanent stalls for our products which boosts our social commitment motives and encourages the artisans to work zealously,” says Fr Paul Thomas Kalathil, director of KIDS.
KIDS started a cluster project for enhancing screw pine weaving with the support of the development commission (in handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India in 2009. Now, there are about 1,000 screw pine artisans directly and indirectly associated with the cluster and they provide skill upgradation training, product information and market knowledge to traditional artisans, mostly women, organising themselves into self-help groups who make value-added products and market them and thereby provide income and financial stability.
“Screw pine is found abundantly in the coastal region, growing on marshy land with green leaves which have been used in handicrafts for ages. Artisans harvest the mature leaves from plants and then remove the thorns from the leaves. They are then sliced into fine strips and rolled into discs. These are left for drying and once dried they are dyed and ready to be weaved into vanity bags and carry bags,” said Mercy Thomas.
Water hyacinth is an environmental menace to fresh water sources and shows high resistance to chemical and biological control measures.
“Since control measures are difficult, the efficient utilisation of the weed is a sensible and sustainable option. At KIDS, the natural invader is processed into useful articles like mats, waste bins and other household items,” she said.
Ms Mercy said making of different articles by artisans with jute blend and arecanut leaf is also under way at KIDS. The differently-abled also make cards for various occasions painted on mats....