A note from a Guest…



Jai Gurudev!

I attend “ToeHold sangama 2002” – the annual confluence of the ToeHold Families and Friends on Oct. 18th, 2002 at Athani in Karnataka. I was asked to visit the place and send a write up to SSRDP by Vasanti. Mr. Murlidharan Nair was also going to be present there as he has been working closely with the artisans there for the last 4-5 years.


Ms. Malakumar distributes the ToeHold pin to the members.


I had anticipated a small gathering of locals with usual chaos and unplanned function as it happens at the most of such gatherings. But to my pleasant surprise the whole function was extremely well planned and executed with full cooperation of the ToeHold family members. I was really touched by the simplicity, innocence, genuine joy and laughter of all those attended.


M. S. Menon, G.M. Nabard 
releasing the New catalogue.


“ToeHold” is the brand name of the leather footwear that these artisans produce. And a Bangalore based group people has initiated and helped this revolution in this rural area. Mr. Pandurang Shetty, Mathura Chatrapathi and their team of dedicated individuals have been a source of inspiration for these for these poor artisans-mainly women – through their organization called as The Asian Centre For Entrepreneurial Initiatives “ASCENT”


Mr. Alok Sinha IAS NPM, NLDP distributes the profit cheque 
to the ToeHold members.


They have not only trained these artisans in quality leather footwear production but have also trained them in sales and marketing of the goods produced. The amount of confidence and self respect generated among these not so well educated women is amazing. Many of these women have been to various handicraft fairs all over India and abroad like Germany and have managed to sell and collect new orders for the footwear’s.


Achievers Award.


I saw real happiness; joy in these women’s eyes and a newly acquired; confident; self respectful body language. Many of them came forward and shook hands with a respectively stranger like me and greeted me bright smiling faces. All of these women were clad in their groups uniform sarees and had a tremendous amount of discipline which was evident through their well mannered and patient behavior throughout the day.


From Left 
Madhura Chatrapathy , 
M.S. Menon, G.M. Nabard, 
A.K. Sinha IAS, 
M.K. Panduranga Shetty.


Ascent has transformed their lives to such an extent that many of them have stopped eating Tobaco, paan, and have helped their men to quite alcohol; bidi etc. their children are now getting better education and an opportunity to raise their social and economic status to a new height.


Mr. A.K. Sinha & 
Mr. Aloka Sinha at CFC


These women also displayed a lot of creativity when they presented a 2 hours cultural programme which included …. And skits on their ASCENT experience written and composed by themselves along with other songs and dances.


Madhura M Chatrapathy 
with new catalogue.

Those artisans who had produced maximum number of footwear’s with required quality were presented wristwatches and all those groups who had achieved new heights in production, quality and different styles were honored They were presented with their additional income (Profit) checks as well as ToeHold overnighters (Suitcases).

Programme ended peacefully in the evening around 5p.m., with all these people making new resolutions to achieve greater quality and quantity standards by the time they meet again next year.

All the dignitaries like IAS officers from Delhi; ASCENT leaders from Bangalore, local Rotary Club members, guests like Murali Nair and myself as well as all the artisans and their family members had a very heart warming, satisfying, touching and encouraging experience during the one day get together that was :ToeHold” Sangama 2002”.

Mahesh Digrajkar
22/10/2002.


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