Subsequent meetings with the groups focused on development of group coherence and action plan visioning. Discussions revolved around the institution and skill development. The team proposed an exposure trip to Nepura the site of Endogenous Tourism Project (ETP).
In 2007, under ETP, a women’s Self Help Group was formed to revive the craft traditions of Sujuni stitch and Khatwa appliqué which were hitherto restricted to items made by individual women at household level. Under this project the Anchala women’s cooperative was formed and the women took it to new levels gusto and enthusiasm. Sewing machines were purchased from project funds; the women took an office on rent, organized themselves according to skill and experience and actively took up the craft, learning from one another. At first they started collecting and documenting traditional designs.
Since Nepura village is on the Buddhist circuit, with the help of NGO partner, the women started collecting depictions of Buddha’s life and stories as well as Buddhist motifs which were then transferred onto the cushion covers, wall hangings etc. These are becoming very popular among tourists as they make for attractive souvenirs.
Under the ETP project, the Anchala Women’s cooperative members have attended the following craft melas:
Toshali National Crafts Mela, Bhubaneswar (Feb ’08) where a total of 18 ETP sites participated
Incredible !ndia’s international event “India@60” in Singapore (Apr ’08) – a total of 4 ETP sites participated
Explore Rural India Craft Mela at Dilli Haat (Oct ’08) – where a total of 27 ETP sites participated
Incredible! India’s international event “India Calling@60” at Los Angeles, USA (Sep ’09)
This site also received the CNBC travel award of the year 2009 under the category 'Tourism site best demonstrating women’s empowerment'. Besides the prestigious awards and national and international exhibitions, the local as well as national media has showered much attention on their success; and there ‘dreams come true’ story has been covered by the ‘India Today’ magazine and national television ‘Doordarshan’ among others.
All the members of each newly formed groups visited Nepura. The new Groups had interaction with the members of “Anchala Mahila Swablambhi Sahkari Samiti”. The members of Nepura cooperative generously shared their experience with the visitors.
A meeting was held with the groups after their Nepura visit. We asked them what they learned and sought their feedback. The group members were very motivated and shared their learning; they were most impressed by the transparent system of record keeping at Nepura.