The unassuming leader from Manpura

Shanti, Manpura

Artisan Shanti from Manpura

One wouldn’t believe Shanti when she admits to how shy and timid she used to be, two years ago. A confident young mother of two, Shanti is the Bunkar Sakhi operating from Manpura. Here’s a tête-à-tête with her.

“I used to be extremely meek and hesitant to talk to anybody from outside. Driven by societal pressures, women in our village generally do not venture outside their homes”, she says as she recollects her life before Bunkar Sakhi happened to her. Shanti’s life revolved around completing her chores from dawn to dusk and weaving rugs whenever she got time. She had little to do with anybody other than her family and cared less. “I used to be so lazy that my husband had to chuck me out of the bed every morning!” she exclaims. Once a quite homemaker and an indulgent mother, few would have imagined her to solve critical issues in weaving and lead the group of weavers from her village.

When the Bunkar Sakhi for her village was announced, Shanti was stunned to find her name in it. She was anything but confident. Nonetheless, with the support of her family, she took the plunge. Initial days were not kind to her because knowing every minute detail about a carpet, the ability to identify loopholes and resolve them immediately takes time and patience. “Believe me it wasn’t easy. I did experience problems in the early days when I used to check looms and wasn’t able to find anything wrong with them! Later though I developed a better understanding of these things and today enjoy full support from the entire community.” Furthermore, as a grassroots leader, Shanti does a great job at mobilizing the villagers during events and medical camps organized by Jaipur Rugs Foundation.

“The biggest contribution of Bunkar Sakhi in my life is to confront fear. There used to be a time when I would tremble to talk to a man. I don’t do that anymore by gaining confidence in myself”. Clothed in strength and dignity, Shanti smiles at what future has in store for her.