Skilled Samaritan Foundation (SSF) is a registered Section 8 Company providing stready income opportunities to women from rural communities in Muzaffarnagar District of Uttar Pradesh, India.
Mission: We provide income opportunities to women without a formal education who are from marginalised populations in Western India, by understanding and leveraging their existing craft skills, to make sustainable 'marketable' products for a global buyer, that are made from waste & salvaged materials locally generated in their region.
Vision: Handcrafting functional home & lifestyle products for a global conscious buyer while providing steady incomes for women from low-income communities that lead to sustained empowerment.
Our work addresses issues from a Local, National and Global context:
Local: Gender inequality and lack of opportunities for women in conservative rural communities in Northern India
National: The Indian government has imposed a nationwide ban on most single-use plastic products
Global: The UN SDGs, Goal no. 12, ‘Responsible consumption and Production’ encourages industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste, Goal no. 5 responds to address issues associated with Gender Inequality.
Skilled Samaritan was founded in 2012, where we worked closely with local communities in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, to successfully implement solar lighting solutions, creating an impact on almost 25,000 lives.
During this period, we spent a lot of time with local communities to understand innate and existing skill-sets of women which consisted of traditional weaving styles. Since Jan 2019, we have been channelling weaving skills of the women in the region, by bringing to them modern design sensibilities to create products that are well-designed and functional, while using waste materials and natural fibres found in and around the region.
Skilled Samaritan Foundation started work in village Budhina Kalan, Muzaffarnagar District with 1 woman (Gauhar) in October 2018 who worked for us ’behind the closed doors of her home’ for almost 4 months till the next one joined us, since in their community women are discouraged to work. This WAS one of the major challenges we faced in increasing our women base. Today we have almost 102 women from 3 villages (Budhina Kalan, Budhina Khurd, Sujroo) who have broken barriers and are now financially independent and leading a life of respect as equals in their communities.
According to the 2011 census, Muzaffarnagar District has a population of 4 million people, of which 70% live in rural areas, and has more than 1 million unemployed women from minority groups that are subject to local socio-economic practises, where most of the women are married by the time they are 15 years. Though many of them do help on the farms, this labour is not recognised, and since they are not allowed to work outside their village as well, they are financially dependant on their male couterparts.
Sustainability and Impact
We identify and support women communities who have unique/undiscovered craftman skills but were never 'artisans' and work closely with them to create 'marketable products. We have started our work with communities living in Muzaffarnagar District, with a focus on skill-sets of charpoy weaving and macrame styles of weaving, that are native to this region.
With more women approaching us for income and training opportunities on a daily basis, we aim to set up a Skill Lab(s) (Common Facility Centre) in the proximity of 5 villages, where each Skill Lab can house almost 350 women, who can work in a clean and safe working environment, close to their homes. With 235 villages in Muzaffarnagar District, we have the potential of creating income opportunities for over 1 million employable women.. and that is just the beginning!
Skilled Samaritan provides training, workshop facilities and designs from in-house designers, to develop high quality premium home décor and fashion accessories that are marketed to an urbane and global audience, using online and offline sales channels. Most of these products are made from waste/salvaged textiles and multi-layer industrial packaging waste so the products are sustainable in nature, thereby encouraging responsible production and consumption patterns, thereby strongly contributing to a circular economy.
Read more about our materials here.
An average SSF product is woven over 4.5 hours, using 7 kgs of waste textile/plastic saving the world from 21 kgs ~ of CO2 emissions per product.
More about our journey..
We started our journey in Sirohi, an arcadian village isurrounded by dramatic magnificent scenery and artificial lakes, located amidst the Aravali hills of Haryana. With a population of almost 3500 individuals living in 370 homes, Sirohi was a hidden charm that Skilled Samaritan put on the map 2 years ago when it lit the village with solar lights.
Sirohi's dreamy lakes, the fragrance of its wild herbs, and the slow crash of the Aravalis all combined for a romantic aura in the village that lit in us a unique sense of creativity.
Our focus moved to design and craft after we spent half a decade in these villages, where we hand-picked artisans from the interiors of Northern India to revive and re-introduce age old forms of weaving and Indian designs to develop products for an urbane conscious buyer.
....a combination of traditional techniques, waste materials and fascinating artisanal skill, our hope is to instil values that make talented individuals India's Skilled Samaritans!