Donate to a specific Campaign

If you have an interest in a specific campaign, let’s talk. Our only ask is that your subject of interest must be related to our overarching objective Economic and Health Empowerment of Rural Artisans Community in Punjab, India. There are a few simple examples of areas of mutual interest - and the possibilities to help support the Artisans Community are endless. We’d love to hear from you at ask@thevirsafoundation.org

 

Revival of Old Phulkari Stitches & Motifs

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Help Revive Sainchi Phulkari - Due socioeconomic changes and the events related to The Partition of India (1947), a majority of original and unique Phulkari stitches have been forever lost. The Virsa Foundation is working tirelessly for the Revival of Sainchi Phulkari (or, Old Phulkari Stitches). It is noted by some scholars that as many as 57 distinctive stitches were in circulation prior to the 1940s. Unfortunately, only 4 remain (only 7% of the original repertoire of the artisans).

What does this imply? It implies that most of the existing practitioners of Phulkari do not have the skills to reproduce the lost stitches. A “stitch” is the very foundation upon which motifs and patterns are built. Therefore, a significant part of the Phulkari heritage stands eroded and with it, creative possibilities have become severely limited.

Critical need for revival and resuscitation! And, how Virsa is trying to help remedy this situation: We explore the world for any or all remnants of Old Phulkari Patterns and Phulkari items that may have found their way into a museum and/or someone’s life! We get in touch and try to see if we can get ahold of pictures, museum exhibition related publications with helpful photos of the Original Phulkari patterns etc. We then try to reproduce these patterns, stitches and motifs either through a Painting, a Stencil or urge some of our senior Artisans to try and embroider it by using the photo as a reference.

How can you help? By sponsoring the “Revival of Old Phulkari”, you can help us produce more accurate stencils/paintings and incentivize Artisans to spend time in re-learning the old stitches. Through your generosity, these Artisans can then pass on their abilities to others especially the younger artisans who are still in tutelage.

We will give you a frame-worthy work of Art (acrylic on canvas) that represents Sainchi Phulkari -or- a successfully reproduced version of the Original Sainchi Phulkari (small, frame-able size)

Education & Study Materials

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Help Educate an Artisan or an Artisan’s Child: Most rural Phulkari Artisans have either never been to school or were forced to drop out to school at various stages due to family’s socioeconomic circumstances. Also, in a gender discriminatory context, education for the girl child is considered lower priority than their brothers. Even if the Artisan mothers would like their children to go to school, often the home environment and their own ability to guide & coach the child makes learning less fun that it should be.

Here is how your generosity can make a difference:

You can sponsor a campaign where The Virsa Foundation will identify a group of motivated children and sponsor their education

You can choose to sponsor a child’s entire primary education (KG to High School at the nearby Village School)

You can sponsor Study Materials, Books and Stationary

 

Continuing Education for Motivated Young Artisans

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Here’s a short story on our emerging young artisan, Jyoti Kaur. Her story, in a way, reflects the dreams, hopes and aspirations of several of her generation! Their enthusiasm is infectious and their thirst for continuing their education even bigger. Your donation can make a BIG DIFFERENCE to these young women’s lives!

Village near Sangrur (Punjab, India) – 2017

She was excited when her father gifted her a smartphone. The same week, she had received a Phulkari award at the local *Krishi Vigyaan Kendra and had just passed her high school exams. She was so excited. Life couldn’t be more beautiful.

Joti's mother is part of a Phulkari group and with her dad’s permission and encouragement, she finally has her own Bank Khata Number now!

She dreams of having her own Designer Label one day. "Punjabi and Hindi moviestars wear fusion clothing all the time…Long Indian Kurtis (shirts) with denims and those gorgeous Punjabi Juttis (shoes)! She wants to make Phulkari ensembles, Phulkari bags, Phulkari juttis (shoes), Phulkari scarves…", her wish-list is endless. And, Pinterest feeds it all – there are so many Boutique owners already running their own stores. "Hmmm…for that", she tells herself, "I will definitely need more time and investment".

Today, she declared to herself, she was going to be excited about her smartphone and install WhatsApp – where she could share her motifs and embroidery with her friends.

Her motifs weren’t all traditional. She knew clients loved variety and she would add her own little signature to every piece she made. So far, she was working with her mother’s Self Help Group and earning for every border she embroidered on a dupatta (scarf) or a Punjabi suit-piece. She had to be patient, her mother advised her, and start small and save money for her education. A fashion design diploma didn’t come cheap and that too in the big city.

I’ll get there Ma, I’ll definitely get there”, she says, as she set her phone wallpaper to the image of the latest Phulkari flowers she just embroidered, “I’m just getting started!”  

 

*Krishi Vigyaan Kendras are a type of Rural Resource Center supported by State Agricultural Universities in India

On going Campaigns

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Our on going efforts include:

Building Entrepreneurial Skills of Artisans

Health Care & Diagnostics

Feminine Reproductive Health

Nutrition Literacy & Healthy Cooking

Vision Health & Optometrist Support

Ayurvedic Practitioner Consultation & Support