Sarala, a polio victim suffering from disability in her hands, was rejected at every tailoring institute she had applied. At Gurukulam Vocational Training Centre, an initiative of RC Tirupur North, RI District 3202, she received admission for a 6-month course in tailoring. Today, using her motorised machine, she accepts stitching orders from home and leads a dignified and independent life.
Instituted in 2007, Gurukulam is now a lifeline to many deprived women for extra income. Kalaimagal, the trainer and manager of the centre since inception, says, “The classes are free, but the women have to bring their own material for stitching.” Age is no bar and minimum educational qualifications are required. “Till now 1,000 women have been trained in embroidery and tailoring.”
Revathy Thangamani is a post graduate, but the responsibility of her two children made it impossible for her to take up a fulltime job. Today she runs a tailoring unit from her house and is thankful “to this vocational training centre that gave me skills. Gurukulam arranged my bank loan and today I am a full-time mother and business woman.”
Computer training for needy students is another freebie at Gurukulam. “Close to 500 students have been trained so far in MS Office, DTP and Tally courses,” says P Saraswathi, the computer trainer. This certificate course “is a boon for women who have to discontinue their higher education because of lack of financial support. One such story is that of Sowmya, whose father is a cutting master in a textile mill and could not support her education beyond Class 10. But now “even before completing this course I have a job, thanks to the placement assistance at this centre.” She plans to take up the job as a computer operator and support her family and her education through correspondence courses.
A matching grant partnership with RI District 7150, New York Upstate, funded the purchase of computers and sewing machines at Gurukulam. The total cost of this project was around Rs 5,00,000. RC Tirupur North continues to pay the maintenance cost and the salary of the trainers, said Rtn V Muthusami, Secretary of the club. The vocational centre functions within the club’s own building, next to the ‘Freedom 50 Hall’ (community hall) built in 1997 and named in commemoration of the 50 years of Indian independence. “With a capacity to accommodate 150 people, this hall can be rented at Rs 2,500 and free for the poor to host various occasions with dignity,” he added.