From procuring the cloth, handling impossible physical loads on their own, to dealing with recalcitrant government staff in post offices, to dealing with learning basic machinery skills, to handling their accounts with total clarity and transparency - everything they worked through on their own. The quality they have maintained has been impeccable as per each customer's feedback. And when I tell them that they tell me that that is what they want, and that even the payment is a second.
The village being interior as meant many overheads and many problems from procuring items, to handling problems in the machines. The nearest bus stop is 4km away, and procuring material and parcelling bags all has its own overhead attached. But they have worked their way around everything on their own. It has been their project from day 1.
I have supported them in some external ways, as have many other friends. Friends who have placed orders, irrespective of whether they needed them or not. Friends who have given orders in beginning days when I told them that they were only beginners. Friends who have given encouragement and gifts validating quality and commitment. Friends who have given technical support and guidance at each stage. Friends who have owned up logistical paperwork when It has been a collective effort in every sense of the word.
In this process is also a learning of how village people are well capable of organizing themselves and handling production processes for the country, with a minimal support, - if the society has the will to allow and promote village industries. In these times of severe droughts and erosion of livelihoods this is something we cannot lose focus on. Only village livelihoods can save the people and the country today.
Learning and mastering the screen printing process has been one of the processes that has challenged them, and which challenge they met capably.This is a step wise account of the screen printing process that they mastered.
Some customers have been asking for screen printing, and it was clear that that would be essential. I asked around and the training costs were exorbitant. 1500/- per person for a one day training. But then Suraj Kumar tagged his father Narasimhan Sesh, and he immediately gave the contact of his student Bhaskar and said he would help, and that there would be no costs.
The women made time from house and land chores and came away for three days from the village to Chennai. Vignesh jumped into the act from FB, and agreed to be with them through those days as language would be a handicap for them. And he has been with them from that day. From himself learning with them, to helping them with the purchases, to parcelling things down to them by lorry transport, to coming to the village twice (a good 6 hour journey one way from Chennai, as we change innumerable buses, though the distance is only 200km) and working with them at fine tuning the process. And learning Telugu, as well.
The women have consistantly been working at it. Learning, trying, making mistakes and learning from the mistakes till finally they have acquired the skill.
Even now there are the hurdles of being in a remote village. There is no facility to print the transparencies needed, nor are their computer shops which can help with the design. But they have been to Tirupathi, 50 km away, and worked out with a shop that could print a transparency if someone else did the design details and sent to them. But given their persistance and commitment I am sure step by step many things will fall in place ...
|Preparing the screen|
|The photo coat that has to be painted on the screen first|
|Mixing the photo coat for coating|
|Drying the photo coat|
|Placing the screen with the transparency over it, out in the sun.|
|When the sun played truant they used a 500 watt lamp, as worked out and brought by Vignesh|
|Exposing the screen for a calculated time period|
|Exposing the screen|
|Drying the screen after washing it after exposure|
|The image got successfully|
|Taping the unrequired parts|
Some screen prints ...
Some bags ...