Written by: Aanchal Pundir
Established in 1997 as a non-profit trust, Sewa International serves communities in distress, especially during natural disasters, aiding local communities and promoting volunteerism across the world. With the aim of achieving Sustainable Development Goals as a focus area for its interventions in the mountainous regions, especially Uttarakhand, Sewa International is working to improve the lives of more than 3,800 women SHG members in Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts, who are being trained in farm-based livelihoods such as organic farming, horticulture, food processing, as well as non-farm livelihoods such as knitting, sewing, bamboo (Ringal) crafts, tourism, etc.
Our state-of-the-art skill centres, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKKs), help provide necessary employment-oriented skills to aspiring youths in seven districts of Uttarakhand in the domains of Electronics, IT, Healthcare, Agriculture, Telecom, Hospitality, etc. Sewa International’s Health and Awareness programmes are reaching to the farthest of the regions and providing preventive and curative care to the rural people.
Across India, Sewa International is present in 20 states, where it’s working directly as well as with grassroot organisations to achieve SDGs in the areas of health, education, clean water/sanitation, clean energy, poverty eradication and youth/women empowerment among others. Globally, with the active support of Indian Diaspora, Sewa International’s associate partners in 22 countries are working to aid their local communities as well as development/rehab projects in India.
Women have been compared to flowers in poetry and literature not because they are tender like a flower, but because they have the ability to blossom, spread fragrance around the vibrant surroundings even amongst thorns, even in the most hostile environment; provided they get space, time and right nourishment.
Fyunli Kauthig, literally meaning celebration of Fyunli (a flower that blossoms on the onset of spring), is the celebration of all such women who get recognised for their potential, despite innumerous barriers that try to hold them back. Sewa International has been celebrating International Women’s Day (held on March 8) since 2016 as Fyunli Kauthig in Uttarakhand, translated from the idea of ‘celebration of womanhood’.
The community comes together to exhibit extraordinary stories of women in different roles and walks of life, so as to platform their success and inspire others to strive to reach their full potential. Over the past four years, the event has seen new highs, with eminent personalities, social workers, sportspersons and environmentalists attending the event along with the participation of over 9,000 women from the remotest locations in mountains.
Sewa International is working in one of the most inhospitable terrains of Uttarakhand in the districts of Rudraprayag and Chamoli, comprising of families with predominantly female members and with limited sources of income, relying mostly on the remittances from males who work in cities. The selection of the villages and women members is done based on the potential and interest shown by local women of the area and the need of the villages.
These women are then grouped into respective SHGs comprising of 10-12 members, and meet regularly on a monthly basis for intra-loaning and ensuring savings for the group. These women are associated with various Sewa International programmes such as skill development initiatives where women are engaged in knitting, ringal (bamboo) handicrafts, computer training, etc. Then there are women who are involved in farm-based activities including floriculture, cash crops, medicinal plant cultivation, etc.
They are coming from the remotest of the villages in the region and doing some great developmental work. Hence, being Sewa Ambassadors and local influencers, they are invited to the celebrations.
Fyunli Kauthig is intended to provide the mark of respect to the wonderful and hard-working women of Uttarakhand. The metrics of measurement is in terms of the attendance at the event, quality of their cultural presentations, the enthusiasm shown by them for participation in the sports events, and general feedback from them. This year will bring them an inch closer to owning their contribution and success in the change they have brought over these years. The fact that we have received tremendous support from them year after year, despite being located far away from their homes, is a testament to the events’ success.
About the author: Read more works by Aanchal Pundir on Youth Ki Awaaz here.