Anakaputhur near Chennai is an active handloom hub reputed for its ‘Madras handkerchief.’ The weavers hold a place in the Limca Book of Records for weaving saris from 25 varieties of natural fibres. They use fibre extracts of jute, plantain stem, bamboo, aloe vera, etc to weave saris, dress material and even laptop bags.
This village, like several others, was severely battered by the record-breaking November rains that lashed the coastal belt of Tamil Nadu.
Manjula, a resident of the village, runs a pedal loom weaving unit earning Rs 15,000 a month. The flash floods at her home-cum-unit left her and her family with just the floor, washing away the unit and household articles. She was literally on the streets. Like her, more than 200 weavers in the village lost their livelihood and belongings.
The Rotarians of RC Madras Industrial City, D 3230, led by Club President R Gopinath, quickly stepped in to act in two phases to help the flood victims. Under the first phase, they provided immediate relief comprising basic amenities, shelter and food to over 150 homeless villagers. Revival kits worth Rs 5 lakh with 32 survival items were distributed to more than 150 beneficiaries in the presence of PDG J B Kamdar.
The second phase initiated by Project Chairman S A Premkumar was aimed at reviving the livelihood of the weavers. Vocation resurrection aid in the form of power pedal looms and around 50 motorised sewing machines were distributed. The total cost was Rs 16 lakh. DG C R Raju, lauding the endeavour, said, “It is heartening to see the village back on its feet. If not for this timely intervention by the Rotarians, we would have lost the region’s famed banana fibre material.”
Manjula, in an emotionally charged voice, thanked the Rotarians, saying, “After our basic needs of food and shelter were taken care of, the bank loans loomed large over our heads. Now with your support we can get our act together.”