Empowering poor widows through the beauty route

April 1st, 2008 - 6:35 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) In a bid to empower poor widows economically, a trust run by London-based NRI businessman Raj Loomba Tuesday launched an entrepreneurship programme that will train them in hair and beauty care and assist them in setting up their own enterprise. An initiative of the 10-year-old Loomba Trust that works for the upliftment of widows across the world, this project ultimately aims to empower 100 widows in India in the first phase of the programme.

“When a woman is economically empowered, she is also empowered socially. This programme, I am certain, will help the poor widows become self-reliant and educate their children which is what the Loomba Trust strives for,” Loomba said at the launch of the programme at the India International Centre.

Widows in India, particularly those who are Hindu, have traditionally been subjected to stringent social regulations and many of them find themselves without a support system.

The Loomba Trust Entrepreneurship Programme, which will be carried out in association with well-known beautician Blossom Kochhar, will ensure free education on hair and beauty care and then financial assistance for the widows to set up their own salons.

“Why we chose the field of beauty care to empower these women is, one, this is a woman oriented field. Therefore these women will not feel intimidated in front of others. And second, because it is a flourishing business,” Loomba said.

The course, which will be of six to eight week duration, will teach the women basic skills in beauty and hair care. They will then be involved in a three-month apprenticeship with a salon before setting up their own business.

The women in the first batch are expected to graduate and be ready to start their own enterprise by June 4 this year, which is marked as International Widows Day by the Trust in more than 15 countries.

“Education without a hands-on training is futile. Therefore we will ensure that after the six to eight week programme, these women get an apprenticeship with a good salon. And even after they set up their own salon, we will guide them for a year or more so that they are confident in their job,” Kochhar told IANS.

The Loomba Trust will be assisting the women with an amount of Rs.100,000 each to set up their salon.

One of the beneficiaries of the programme, Jasbir Kaur of Patparganj in east Delhi, said this initiative would ensure a regular income for her family.

“My husband was working in partnership with someone before he suddenly passed away in 2004. After that, my husband’s business partner took away everything from us…only I know how I managed to keep my children from dropping out of school,” Kaur said softly as she sat with a beauty kit given to her during the programme’s launch.

“Until now I have been running the household by tailoring and sewing clothes. My son is in school, studying with the help of the scholarship given by the Loomba Trust. With this programme, I hope to have a regular income and give my children all the comforts that I want to,” she said.

Sheetal Yadav, another beneficiary of the programme, said: “Another good thing about this programme is that we will be compensated during the training, so that our children don’t go hungry during that period.”

The beneficiaries were selected after an interview with Kochhar that basically concentrated on the women’s economical status and the health and educational status of their children.

“These women don’t earn more than Rs.1,000-1,500 per month but after they set up their own salons or start working in someone else’s, their starting salary will be Rs.5,000,” Kochhar said.

In India, the Loomba Trust supports 3,600 children of poor widows throughout the country. It also works on similar philanthropic programmes in 14 other countries in Asia and Africa.

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