Three years ago a young woman burnt herself to death in a Rajasthani village in India. The drums of a wedding procession drowned her screams till it was too late. For Dhapu just 30, the mother of five children, lively, bright, beautiful, the pressures of having to take on the support of her widowed sister-in-law and her family of four, proved too much. Her husband’s income as an agricultural labourer in this particularly dry, deprived part of Eastern Rajasthan did not match his sense of family honour. Ironically, sadly the group of us who rushed – too late – to save Dhapu from her self-immolating flames were working to create economic alternatives for women just like her. Today – as part of the Dastkar Ranthambore Project – Dhapu’s eldest daughter Indira, her widowed sister-in-law, and her sister-in-law’s daughter Pinky, are among the most prosperous women in Sherpur village – earning their own livelihood through their own inherent skills.
The Ranthambore National Park spreads over 400 sq. kms of dry deciduous forest in the Sawai Madhopore district of south-east Rajasthan. It is one of the finest natural tiger habitats of the world. Creating this space and freedom, however, meant that villagers, whose ancestors had for centuries lived within the environs of the Park, lost their homes and had to be resettled. Though these villagers were settled in areas just outside the Park, they lost their access to wood, water and traditional farming lands. As an initiative to support these villagers, the Ranthambore Foundation was created with the objective of acting as a catalyst in rebuilding the displaced communities’ social and economic foundations. It was in this context that the Ranthambore Foundation approached Dastkar in the spring of 1989 to take charge of the income generation program for the village crafts persons, particularly women.
Enter Dastkar Ranthambore. Located next to Shar Bagh Luxury Tented Camp, this Rhajisthan-based co-op produced handicrafts created by local villagers, particularly women from the surrounding areas.
The women at Dastkar Ranthambore create designs out of locally made linens and fabrics.
Inside the craft center lies a wealth of beautifully crafted local goods.
A selection of crafts at Dastkar Ranthambore
A selection of cottons, bags, fabrics, tablecloths and T-shirts are but a few of the choices to make
Shan Varty appreciates the fine fabric which make up this particular item.
The influence of the Tiger from the surrounding Ranthambore National Park is extremely evident!
Dastkar Ranthambore – A Women’s Self Help Initiative since 1989