On the outskirts of city lives a middle aged woman Arifa, a school dropout the semi literate woman was not so happy with her life.
From a middle class family, the life seemed quite tough for her despite she tried her hands on everything to earn the livelihood. Finally she gave up due to poor financial background and being unskilled. However, she doesn’t lost hope.
Arifa finally got enrolled in the government sponsored Craft Development Institute (CDI) and obtained a diploma in Namda crafts. Within no time by her hard work she became well trained student of CDI in Namda making and eventually decided to start her own Namda making venture.
“After being trained at CDI, I had still nothing in hands to start. Though I had so much interest in Namda Manufacturing. I was back home dejected and looking here and there for financial support,” she said while recalling her journey.
“Finally I got a call from someone in New Delhi who assured me to invest in my business and I took this challenge.”
Since then Arifa didn’t look back and today she is on a mission to revive the Namda culture in Kashmir. And her products are known for its designs and quality making.
“There was fraud in making of Namdas in Kashmir due to which it had earned bad reputation locally as well as internationally. My priority was first to save this craft from perishing so I ensured quality material is used,” she says.
The efforts of Arifa have been so impressive that her endeavour is now acknowledged not only at the local level but also at the international forums. She is praised for reviving the Namda.
With eight women working in her business, this lady has worked to empower the women financially.
Arifa believes the women who are not educated should never sit idle at home as there are numerous opportunities available in the world. “The only thing is they need to explore them and break the stereotype.”
For her dedication and reviving the Namda in Kashmir, Arifa even earned the honorary citizenship of USA. But she refused to settle abroad for greener pastures and believes in serving her own people.
“I didn’t go there though I was awarded the citizenship and full support by the US government. However, I preferred to settle down in Kashmir and work for the revival of this craft,” she told The Legitimate.
The history of crafts in Kashmir is many centuries old and have been brought here by Sufi saints from central Asian countries to give boost to the local economy. Due to geography and topography of region Kashmir was an isolated place and its connectivity with the rest world would last for just six to seven months of summers.
In winters the people would stay indoors due to heavy snowfall and no work. So the craft work was highly preferable job since people in the shivering cold and snowfall could work indoors and earn their livelihood.
The director CDI, Zubair Ahmad, however, says that the craft in Kashmir has a great future but it attaches social stigma due to which most of the people dislike it. He says CDI trains hundreds of youths in different trades so that they can set their own benchmark in manufacturing of craft related products.
“This institute has no basic qualification criteria and anyone can enroll here to attain training in any trade he wants to learn. After imparting the basic training, he can start his own business venture,” he says.
While maintaining that the craft has great opportunities for youth to explore, Zubair says that it attaches the social stigma due to which most of the people prefer not to opt for it.
“I urge all those who have interest in trade and want to make a name in their life to learn the craft and start their business. It will have really a great future for them”. He said that it will also help in tackling the growing unemployment in state.
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