Meet Khushi Tekriwal, the founder of Project Karigar
At the tender age of 15 when girls her age were busy in their own world Khushi was thinking of creating a better world for thousands of rural artisans across India who despite their incredible talent are struggling to make their ends meet. Deeply moved by the plight faced by the local artisans of India she decided to launch ‘Project Karigar’ as an attempt to help them in her own way possible.She hopes to create and support sustainable livelihoods for India’s 10 million weaver and artisan community.
“It was my first visit to Shantiniketan – a small township on the outskirts of my city Kolkata. On every corner of the road was a vendor selling a handicraft - a lady with bamboo baskets on one side, a painter with ‘meenakari’ painting on the other.
Subsequently, I visited a factory named Palashboni, that had some 100 workers, labouring in a shed without electricity, transforming their art into marketable goods, such as I had already seen by the roadsides. They weaved and spun fabrics, dyeing and imprinting them with batik or blocks. Their unique craftsmanship relied on cheap raw materials, even using waste flowers from temples for dyeing. I was mesmerised by their creativity. But, it was galling that despite their obvious talent and capacity for hard work, they could barely make ends meet.
I connected with them instantaneously and decided to help them reach a wider customer base. I began by teaching them to load their product pictures on Amazon, the e-commerce site, and made them realise the power of technology. Their joy at using this simple technology encouraged me to extend my reach. I thus conceived Project Karigar to connect these talented karigars(artisans) within India and with their global consumers using e-commerce”, Khushi, a student of La Martiniere for Girls, said. The long term aim was to connect art with patrons of art globally, help the karigars get a fair price for their products without middlemen, and also to preserve our unique and precious heritage.She has successfully managed to impact 600+ artisans across 20 states and increase their revenue by nearly 200% during the severe COVID -19 crisis.
Khushi was aware that the pandemic had severely affected the young minds who were reluctant to talk about their mental health issues considering it to be a social taboo.
After being selected as the Counter Speech Fellow of YLAC (https://theylacproject.com) she launched The Mind Unboxed.It is a platform to address various mental health issues among teens. They conducted surveys which had questions pertaining to peer pressure,bullying etc in urban and rural schools to understand what was going on inside the mind of the child and then worked with experts to develop a bespoke workshop to address the results to the school teachers to help them manage the same.She runs an active campaign in social media to raise awareness on the importance of mental health. The platform also has a song recommender chatbot that recommends songs based on user input emotion.The framework of which was developed by Khushi herself using Panda Numpy Library in Python.
With her die hard ‘do-er’ attitude and making the most out of her day she unwinds in the weekends by indulging in passionate cooking and presenting it in her blog 'Kitchenmaestro’
Her inclination to help the underprivileged made her convert this passion of hers into a charity kitchen which has weekly pop -up kitchens to raise funds for the benefit of the underprivileged.
Khushi is always found to be cheerful, eager to take on new challenges and very resourceful. Instead of looking at what is ‘not there’ she always strives for ‘what can be done’ and achieving the seemingly impossible.
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