Rayagada: While the lockdowns and shutdowns owing to the Covid pandemic have left many penniless on the streets with no jobs, it has been the time for some to take lessons to become self-reliant.
With schools closed to contain the Covid pandemic, Seva Samaj Balika Sishu Jatna Anusthan (SSBSJA), Gunupur, a shelter home for orphan girls run by Seva Samaj has been utilizing the period to provide vocational training to its inmates to become self-reliant.
The over hundred inmates are being taught to make the much in demand face masks, neem-based herbal soaps and liquid hand wash using neem leaves from trees in the institution’s campus apart from knitting sweaters, mufflers, stitching of door curtains, asana (sitting mats), dresses for children etc.
“During this lockdown we have learnt to make herbal soaps and hand wash using neem leaves collected from trees inside the campus,” said Purnima Kumari, an inmate of SSBSJA.
We are also making face masks, sweaters, mufflers, door curtains, sitting mats and many more items, she added.
“From the money earned from the sale of these products ‘Apa'(the trainer) has bought a sewing machine for us. We are using the sewing machine to stitch dresses for children,” she said.
“Since we are unable to go out due to the lockdown we are making soaps and liquid hand wash using neem leaves and other herbs available from inside the campus of ashram,” another inmate of SSBSJA Sujata Kar.
The inmates of the institution after collecting leaves from the neem trees inside the campus segregate the leaves from the twigs. Later the raw leaves are added to the heated soap base. The soap base is further heated and rose water and aloe vera extracts are added before it is left to cool. And the soap is ready.
The soaps and hand wash produced is used by over hundred inmates in the three branches of the SSBSJA located at Rayagada, Gunupur and Padmapur in Rayagada district.
“We and our staff are using this period to teach them how to become self-reliant after they complete their studies. We are making soap and hand wash using neem leaves. They have learnt stitching, they can make dresses. They are also making face masks. They have distributed several of them and have sold them as well. We have bought them a sewing machine from the profit earned from the sale proceeds of masks,” informed Rajeshwari Biswal, Secretary of Seva Samaj.
“They are small kids. They are learning how to knit, stitch, keep the garden clean and make herbal soap” said Santi Devi, a Gandhian and a leader of the Bhoodan movement who is also the founder of Seva Samaj.
Seva Samaj managed by the Odisha State Child Protection Society runs with a 60% grant from the Central Government, 30% from the State Government, and 10% from own funds.