She embraced fibre crafts and is building a strong Social enterprise empowering hundreds of women in Sikkim.
When you desire to take up what sets your soul on fire, then with that flame, you shall lead the world towards light. What if you crave for art but you have forced yourself to become a doctor? Can you truly make justice to whatever you took up? Even if you could, it cannot be for long. But if you take up what wakes you up every morning, then you not just cater to yourself, but also to the lives of people around you. This proved to be true in the case of a woman from Sikkim, who embraced what she loved, started her life journey and has been empowering many underprivileged women during the course. Let's see the journey of a woman entrepreneur who has ventured into building a social enterprise thereby touching and changing the lives of the women around her.
Sincere Trials Result in A Fruitful Outcome:
Devika Gurung was raised with high expectations. She was given formal education at the Holy Cross School, Tadong and was later sent to Kolkata for further studies. However, shattering her family's expectations of becoming a doctor or an engineer, she discovered that her love for art is something that's going to take her forward in life. So, instead of pursuing a medical degree, she went on to do a Diploma in Photography but it did not take much time for her to realize that photography was just her hobby and not a passion. So, she dropped out in the third year and joined a BPO to earn her bread. But, somewhere deep inside, she knew that she is meant for something bigger. So, she eventually quit her job and returned to Gangtok - holding neither a professional degree nor a job in hand. She always had deep love for art forms and she was drawn by nature's beauty and wonders, also was deeply influenced by the life and works of Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh. Though she was then reaching nowhere, she still knew one thing for sure - NO government job at all. She never liked to settle in a government job. While she was searching for the real purpose of her life, she got associated with a local media house in Gangtok as a writer. There, she met different people, dealt and wrote about quite a lot of contemporary societal issues especially related to women. Then came running to her mind, what she is entitled to. She combined her passion with a purpose. Her passion and love for arts and crafts is coupled with the purpose of uplifting women. There the result is - a social enterprise that she named as Fidgety Fingers.
Fidgety Fingers- Keeping the Traditional Arts Alive:
A social entrepreneurial project based in Sikkim that was incubated on 1st September, 2015 by Devika had two prime objectives - the first is to empower the underprivileged women by giving financial and social independence in the form of sustainable livelihood and the second is to revive the traditional art forms like knitting and needle work. Rural women are mainly those who belong to the impoverished backgrounds, most of them are school dropouts, child brides, young(adolescent) mothers who struggle to make their way to living in this chaotic and rather distressing world. Such women are trained in knitting, Needlework, and crochet.
This training is provided free of cost and once they finish their training, these women start working with Fidgety Fingers or set up their own business. They have trained a total of 60 women so far, 47 out of who were trained in association with the North East Rural Livelihood Project (NERLP) in rural areas of South Sikkim like Tokal Bermiok and Sumbuk, 13 of them have been trained at Sichey, East Sikkim. Currently, they are training the women inmates at the State Central Jail, Rongyek.
Inclination towards Fibre Arts - Why?
Devika's childhood and the growing up years were based in the Himalayan region and belongs to the Gurung community who are basically shepherds and weavers. Every household in her region till date practices the traditional fibre arts and crafts. As a child, Devika learnt the basics of knitting, crochet, needlework, and weaving from her grandmother and mother. That call to be an artist thus took its roots from the very own nativity and upbringing. Thus, when she was confused with the career she had to take up, she eventually realized that fibre craft is going to be her livelihood and a way of life.
At Fidgety Fingers:
Traditional techniques are used in designing the products like toys, home decors, shawls, sweaters, cushion covers, and many more suitable for all age groups. Women knit, crochet, and embroider various motifs by hand. Thus, they sell all handmade products using ethnic designs and combination colours. The products range from Rs.10 to Rs.5000. For their work and contribution to uplift the lives of women, Fidgety Fingers received the Special Mention’ Award in the UPSTART, Northeast Startup Challenge and Festival 2016-17 held at Guwahati, Assam under the social sector services category.
Challenges And Learning:
The work at Fidgety Fingers needs a lot of patience, concentration, and utmost endurance because it is purely a handwork. Not easy at all! So, Devika finds it often difficult to let women involve in the project for a long time. As the training sessions are elaborative, women find it irking and difficult. But those who persist know its worth. Money doesn't fall into your pocket so easily, so women who understand this, make the best out of it. Devika says that she has learnt many things from various people she met ever since the project was initiated. Every woman who works with Fidgety Fingers have a positive outlook towards life and work with bubbling enthusiasm with an intention to make their lives better. They have numerous issues burning them from inside but on the outer shell, they wear beautiful smiles and come to work. They, she says, are her real heroes.
Aspiring To Expand:
Going forward, Devika aims to make Fidgety Fingers a very well acclaimed and trusted brand just like the biggest fashion brands of today. With a mission to take this enterprise to all the four districts of Sikkim, she wants more women to be empowered and self-reliant.
A Problem Solver:
According to Devika, entrepreneurs are problem solvers and anyone who is good at problem solving can become an entrepreneur. She says that the work one does should not only empower them but also others.
Kudos to this woman who not only set a path to build her own life but is also making way for fellow women to create one on their own. Real success is when you take people along with you and help them stand by themselves. And yeah!! Devika is successful and we wish more women find their lives worth living under her guidance.
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