Mukti Datta: A Brave Woman, Social Worker, Leader and Enterprenuer
Meet Mukti Datta - A Woman with Courage
Mukti Datta is half Belgian and half Indian. She has changed lives of women in Kumaon region in North of India, part of world which was male dominated for generations. She has given employment to women from an entire region.
This single page is not enough to describe all the qualities Mukti Datta have, but I will try to mention few key achievements of her here.
Mukti datta - A Campaigner for saving Environment
It will contribute a lot to environment in long run
Forests were disappearing and wildlife was affected a lot day by day in and around Binsar in Kumaon(In Uttranchal in north of India) region. Raging Fires, tree cutting and poaching were normal in forests of Binsar.
That was the time when actually Mukti started taking initiative for local people and wildlife. In 1986, Mukti wrote letter to then Indian prime minister for making Binsar forest area as wildlife sanctuary. This was appreciated by the prime minister and this give lot of courage to Mukti.
Then she motivated local people and started the campaign for recognizing Binsar as wildlife sanctuary. Mukti formed Jagaran Samiti (Society for the Empowerment of the Population) and started promoting the campaign. Finally due to efforts made by Jan Jagran Samiti, Binsar was declared as wildlife sanctuary.
Journey which changed life of thousands of women in Kumaon
Journey from Kumaon(India) to Tibet
Mukti with help of some of women who were master weavers, set foundations for Panchachuli Women Weavers way back in 1990. Initially they started training women using sheep wool. They were not able to source pashmina till 1995 because tradional trade route between Kumaon and Tibet was not open. In 1995 this route opened, and that created oppportunity for starting centuries old traditional trade of pashmina again. Mukti applied for Trans-Himalayan trade licence to travel to Tibet. In AUG 1995 Mukti along with other two young women undertook the journey to Tibet.
After the adventurous journey, they managed to buy 500 kilogrammes of pashmina(cashmere) wool from the Chapka nomads. So several decade old trade contacts were restablished. These trade contacts still exist today. Pashmina dramatically changed the work of the women weavers. Panchachuli Women Weavers is now a strong force of around 1000 women. Very high quality wool products (Pashmina, lambswool) are exported every year to every corner in the world. Visit Panchachuli Women Weavers to know more about them.
It was not possible without the help from friends
Danny Kaye and Silvia Fine Foundation
In 1997, Mukti Datta met Dena Kaye, president of the Danny Kaye and Silvia Fine Foundation.
And Dena was impressed with the project that Jan Jagran Samiti(Society for the Empowerment of the Population) was involved in.
With support from Danny Kaye and Silvia Fine Foundation, weaving centres were built, looms and raw materials were bought. Two machines for the processing of pashmina(cashmere) wool were imported from Scotland.
Health Care was Provided to Local Villagers
It was very hard for people around Almora to find any health care. Specially women had to cope with their health problems alone.
With the help of Danny Kaye and Silvia Fine Foundation, Jan Jagran Smriti (Society for the Empowerment of the Population) the construction of Hostpital began in October 2000. The land was donated by the villagers of Metena village. Hospital was opened for public in November 2002.
The project has been a great success, every day more than 100 patients are treated. ALso year around several camps are arranged to eye treatment, vaccinations.
Also in 1992, Jan Jagran Smriti (Society for the Empowerment of the Population), founded a leprosy rehabilitation centre in the town of Almora with support from the ministry of welfare and the German Leprosy Relief Association.
Education for Children and Child Care
Schools and creche were built
With financial assistance from The Danny Kaye Foundation, crÃ¨ches and primary schools have been built. Today, around 1000 children attend these schools. There are 5 primary schools, a middle school, and a high school for girls.
Women in Almora Region Feel Proud of themselves Today
All these efforts by Mukti Datta with help from others have changed lives of thousands of women. Confident women, well dressed, boarding buses from Home to Weaving centres and then back home in evening is very common sight these days. Mukti Datta should feel proud of what she has done for the region, specially for lives of women.