Jaipur Rugs, a family-run brand that has been reviving the dying art of carpet weaving since 1978, is now teaching the art of weaving to jail inmates.
The company is working with 100 inmates across Jaipur Central Jail, Bikaner Central Jail and Dausa Central Jail.
“One of the biggest tragedies to befall upon a family is the incarceration of the breadwinner. Most of the prisoners come from economically weak backgrounds and are rarely literate.
Their lives are marred by poverty and crime and the only way to bring about change is to empower them economically,’ says Yogesh Chaudhary, Director, Jaipur Rugs.
Through this initiative, the company is tapping into inmates’ creative capacity as it builds a sense of confidence amongst them and motivates them to lead a better life.
The company trained the inmates in Manchaha technique of weaving for around six months and the end result is a limited-edition collection of rugs called Freedom Manchaha.
The long and tedious project had its own set of challenges. “Trust in the work and in the fact that the work will be rightfully remunerated is what we needed to establish when we started this initiative. Over time, the inmates saw actual work happening on the ground and their faith in us and in the process grew,” says the Director.
The work with the inmates started in September 2018 and over 150 carpets have been created since.
Manchaha is a Hindi word popular in Rajasthan’s weaving community, which means ‘expression of my heart’. The Jaipur Rugs’ project is a sustainable development initiative in which weavers get to design their own rugs.
“It taps into the untamed fashion in rural India by nurturing their creative potential and transforms a community. Takes them from exploitation to empowerment. Each rug, hand-made with more than 2,00,000 knots, is the story of its creator, which has emotions, dreams, and a distinct character,” says Chaudhary.
He adds that instead of giving production orders or pre-defined designs to the jail inmates, the company let them weave Manchaha rugs their way.
“Through this initiative, the prison inmates are trained in rug weaving and production and their efforts get appreciated globally, leading the way for reformations. The earnings from this initiative help the families of the inmates. Additionally, 25 per cent of the earned income goes to the victim’s families,” said Rakesh Mohan, Jail Superintendent, Jaipur Central Jail.
Jaipur Rugs is also helping them open bank accounts and their remuneration is deposited directly in it.
“The best thing about this initiative is that it is replicable. We are looking at taking it to several more correction facilities in the country,” says Chaudhary.
The Freedom Manchaha collection can be viewed here.
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