By Wasudev Mishra, AFS YES Alumni 2014-15

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call of action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. For the SDGs to be achieved in all countries, people everywhere from all sectors of society must play an active role.

The Global Day to #Act4SDGs is a moment to celebrate actions being taken everywhere to move us closer to the SDG targets for a better world. My exchange experience with AFS helped me understand the importance of community service and it’s sustainability. Something that my exchange program taught me is that Community service involvement is important because volunteering teaches people of all ages and backgrounds compassion and understanding.

AFS has given me a platform to portray my experiences. It has also helped me in exploring myself and my interests. Silaigram is one such community service program through which we are trying to make rural women independent.

Silaigram is a platform which sells handmade cloth bags made by underprivileged women of the rural area. A group of about 25 women works for Silaigram to make various kind of cloth bags.

Nowadays it has become essential to replace plastic bags with cloth bags in order to save the environment. Plastic bags are of great harm to the environment. Also, the cloth bags are reusable and degradable. Unlike the free bagging alternatives, cloth bags usually come with a nominal price tag, but the advantages of reusing cloth bags outweigh this small cost. Reusable cloth bags can also offer the opportunity to make a style statement about green living through advertisement of green retailers or organizations. Cloth bags are also more durable than paper bags, which lose integrity if they become wet. Cloth bags are woven from thread made from plants and since cloth is a plant product, cloth bags are ultimately biodegradable, although most consumers choose to reuse the bags. Also, plastics bags were a major concern for the environment, using cloth bags instead is more beneficial environmentally as well as it will give women a platform where they can be a financial support to their families.

Silaigram provides a platform for women of the rural area to earn bread and butter. It ensures women empowerment in rural areas. Empowerment of women is a necessity for the very development of the society since it enhances both, the quality and quantity of human resources available for development. It provides an opportunity to create a self-sustaining income. Through Silaigram we are trying to help women use their skills and develop a future for themselves as well as their children. Empowering women, helping them build a home for themselves, making them self-sufficient and independent is something that Silaigram is trying to pursue. Sewing has been a skill almost every rural women pursed for a long time, we at Silaigram provide an area to use this skill and make a living out of it.

Silairgram is going online from where you can get a whole variety of bags. Also, there is this option that you can design your own bag over here. Our website has other details and designs available HERE

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