Stitch for a cause

Stitch in Time is a project to provide livelihood to underprivileged women in Goa who have lost their source of income due to COVID-19.


The concept of Stitch In Time came during the lockdown when a number of women especially from the slums in Vasco visited the NGO Anyay Rahit Zindagi (Arz), to share their economic problems due to the pandemic and how it was becoming difficult to manage the house.

“Their husbands were working as bike pilots, taxi drivers, at hotels, etc. But due to COVID they were facing problems for ration, rent, medical expenses, etc,” says a social worker Juliana Lohar who has been working with Arz (which works with women and children who have faced or are vulnerable to sexual violence) for the last 18 years.

Most of these women, says Lohar, had never stepped out of their house to work. “We felt the need to mobilise some source of income as we realised that the economic crisis is going to continue for long. Thus, we approached various people for jobs and it was then that artist Harshada Satish Sonak came forward with the idea of stitching something with waste material and we started Stitch In Time,” she says. At the moment there are around 15 to 18 women working on this project at Arz, creating silk stoles and small cloth bags.

And as part of the project, they are now seeking donations of silk sarees from people. Silk, says Lohar, brings quality and revenue. “The payment required by the women is very high. They are paid `800 for one piece of work. So it is natural that the product should be sold at a higher price and it can only happen if the material is of silk,” she says.

Sharing her side of the story and how the project was born, Sonak says that during the lockdown she came across a lamani woman who was looking for a job. “I thought this woman had great skills in stitching and mirror work so I worked with this lady for two months and we designed a beautiful stole in kantha style. But the lady left me saying that this work was too tiring,” she narrates. It was right after this that Lohar informed her about the Vasco women needing a job. “I thought why not continue with this project of creating dupattas and stoles with them,” says Sonak adding that she then took some sarees which were donated by family and friends and started training the ladies on how to do the kantha stitch, etc.

Sonak also got some of her artist and designer friends like Hema Nagvekar, Vaishnavi Shankhwalkar and Marian Panthel involved in creating these stoles. “Some of the stoles resemble the artworks created by one of my favourite American painter Mark Rothko,” says Sonak who is planning to have an exhibition in March on International Women’s Day wherein Vaishnavi might display canvases inspired by the stoles.

And for the project to continue, Sonak says that it is very important that people donate old silk sarees. “We are planning to make this into a long-term project,” she says.

Apart from stitching, the women and girls are also provided counselling, medical referral, education support to their children, information about important issues, etc.

Though they are yet to start sale of the products, Lohar says that the response from the women for the job is very high. “We have more women who are requesting us for work. The women have also built a bond among themselves and they help each other. Initially we were in two minds whether the women will able to do this work but they are doing it really well and fast,” says Lohar, adding that at this time of economic crisis, people should come forward to support people who are facing problems due to the loss of income by giving them jobs. “We need to understand that if we don’t intervene it may make people victim to abuse, or push them to commit crime.”

(To donate old silk sarees contact Harshada 9881255587 in North Goa and in the South Goa contact Arz 9850962340)