I’m Happy I’m Able To Do Something On My Own

Warli artisan Yamini is proud to be an earning member of her family in a time of crisis, and hopes to inspire her sons to be independent and resilient.

Yamini, who had started out as a tailor, now has additional skills to boast about. A 35-year-old from Maharashtra, Yamini migrated from her home village, Jalgaon Jilla, to the city of Bhiwandi to earn a better livelihood.

Through her Bachat Gat (Self Help Group), she started attending the stitching training workshops conducted by TISSER in 2018. Having worked as a tailor, she was used to stitching blouses and saree falls (a piece of clothing attached to the hem of a saree), but with additional training she learnt to make newer pieces of clothing like jackets etc. It was in one such training session that TISSER representatives introduced her to Warli art. 

Her husband, the primary breadwinner of the family, works as a driver for private cab service companies. His monthly income of around ₹15,000 was insufficient for family expenses, including the education of their two sons, which eventually required them to rely on informal money lenders. 

The uncertainty created by COVID-19 and the fear of her husband’s livelihood loss due to lockdowns spurred Yamini’s decision to build her skills and learn Warli art as part of a skilling initiative by the REVIVE Alliance. Through TISSER, she received production orders, which opened up a new avenue of income. When Yamini became able to supplement the family’s income with ₹2000-₹4000, she felt a sense of accomplishment. 

Yamini has come a long way in her journey as an artisan – not only as an artist but also as a trainer. She has trained about 40 women artisans in Warli designs. They do wall frames, odhani work, kurta designs, etc. “On some days, household chores take up a lot of time and I get free only by midnight. Then I have to stay up at night to finish the work. But as soon as I send in the work, TISSER sends me the payment. The more intricate and unique the designs I do, the more money I make,” said Yamini. 

Yamini has found the work-from-home arrangements lonely. She’s used to working collaboratively with other women artisans. But she’s glad for the example she’s setting for her sons. “I’m happy I am able to do something on my own. We haven’t taken any money from anyone; we’ve earned everything we have on our own. I want my sons to learn the same and be able to stand on their feet,” said Yamini.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph