A creative individual with a wealth of ideas and untapped potential, Guddi has undergone a beautiful metamorphosis which impacts every aspect of her life, from the way she raises her children to how she conducts herself in society. Guddi’s is a story of subtle yet empowering change, one that positively impacts a rural woman’s everyday life, nurtures her sense of self and gives her an outlet to express herself.
A shy homemaker and a mother of two, Guddi was married when she was only 15-years-old. Her husband, an electrician, works at the local college during the day and supplements his income working as a driver. Hailing from Meerut, the couple moved to Gurgaon a few years ago after they lost their first child to premature labor.
“Coming from a family of eight siblings, I could not study further than class five. I joined the ACT livelihood program in early 2015 on the insistence of my friend and neighbor Suman who leads the Bhondsi group“, says Guddi.
She continues telling, “My day begins at dawn and once my husband and children leave, I complete my housework to make time for the upcycling work. Initially, I was hesitant to get involved, but Suman persuaded me to attend the training. At times I thought of leaving but everyone at ACT encouraged me to stay on and complete the three-month training. Today I am thankful to them for forcing me to complete the training.
In the village, women are not allowed to go out alone. So for me, this is like a community get-together where I can come and spend time with my friends while doing something useful, as you know in the village we don’t like to while away our time in useless activities. Some days we all get together at Suman’s house and make the products from morning to evening. I look forward to those days.
It is common for women in my community to know skills such as sewing and knitting, but for me, paper upcycling is the first skill I learned. I started with making rakhis, diyas, and keychains, but I love to make necklaces and earrings. It takes me about twenty-five minutes to make a pair of earrings and I can easily make five to six pairs in a day. I make the products in the afternoon when the children are sleeping.”
A quiet soul who likes to speak less and listen more, Guddi has gradually grown into a self-confident and expressive person; now she actively suggests new design ideas, is assertive about the modifications she brings to the existing product designs and takes the lead to complete bulk orders during the festive months.
“It gives me a feeling of pride that my husband has no interest in my income. When I earned my first income from making rakhis and diyas during Diwali, he was very happy and asked me to spend it all on myself. He says, ‘I don’t need the money, just use it to buy things for yourself.’ I am not so fond of shopping so I saved all my income to buy necessities for my children and a mobile for myself.”
Recently Guddi purchased a mobile phone with her savings, which helps her stay connected with her family in her hometown, as well as with fellow upcyclers. She regularly interacts with her craftswomen friends to discuss new design ideas, plan meetings, and to coordinate timely order completion within the group.
“My husband and I both regret marrying early and wish for a different future for our children. We want our daughter to get an education and become independent. With Paper Wings, I earned money for the first time in my life. I never thought it would make me feel so good.”
“Haath mein ek hunar aa gaya, apne liye kuchh kar liya, achcha lagta hai.
Bahut achcha lagta hai.”