Wicksdom: This Initiative Is Employing Elderly Women Across India
For the past 7 years, selling hand-rolled wicks has become a big part of these women's lives.
Diyas filled with ghee, candles and lanterns - Diwali isn't called the 'festival of lights' for nothing. Now imagine, if something as small as a diya could be a source of employment and joy for the elderly?
As a part of the Wicksdom project founded by designer Lakshmi Menon, Kerala-based grandmothers have been selling hand-rolled lamp wicks for the past seven years.
The initiative supports 40-50 elderly women living in old-age homes in Kerala and some other parts of the country as well.
The elders received the raw material free of cost and the entire process comes so naturally to them that they don't really need any training. The rolled wicks are then sold to temples, organisations as well as individuals.
But the larger objective behind Wicksdom isn't just about selling hand-rolled wicks.
The idea for Wicksdom came to Menon when she saw her grandmother, who suffers from Alzhiemer's, roll wicks for oil lamps, while chanting. "She seemed to be at peace," Menon told Live Mint. Menon then gathered a few extra ones, stuffed them in a pouch, tagged it 'Ammoommatthiri' and gifted them to people she knew. The initiative was well-received and Menon then started including more elderly women from the neighbourhood.
For many aged people, Wicksdom added a new purpose to life. A partially blind woman, who couldn't visit the temple, was filled with joy when she found out that her wicks were being used at the temple.
Menon eventually reached out to old-age homes, only to discover that the inhabitants didn't have a source of revenue. They also didn't have anything productive to engage them. Menon knew exactly what she needed to do.
Amidst the pandemic, Menon has brought a new opportunity for these women. They are now also involved in making mattresses from the leftover after the manufacture of PPE kits. These mattresses are being donated to COVID-19 care cantres.
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