The Urmul Desert Crafts enterprise was my entry point into the Urmul Group of organisations . I had shifted from the field of advertising to the development sector, to explore possibilities of using the marketing and communication skills for improving the livelihoods of the rural communities. This organisation has three important aspects to it – Training new artisans in traditional crafts, developing new product range for the existing artisan base and organising the artisan clusters in enterprises. Working on these aspects gave me a solid foundation and an entry point into the community and this line of work. In many of the villages our team conducted trainings, the commute was extremely difficult and long; hence we had to stay with the communities for 7 to 15 days. Many of them didn’t even have basic toilets and we had to go in open fields. Somewhere the water was too bad and gave us stomach aches. Most difficult months were summers where it was simply boiling hot. But all of these issues gave us an insight on how the women would adapt to our trainings and gave us much more conviction for the work, as these skills were a possible way to improve the lives of our communities.
For me, even if 3 women pick up a craft from a batch of 30 and start practising it, I consider it a success. After all, it took us 15 years of schooling to reach college and masters. How can we expect one training to convert everyone into an entrepreneur.