Chekutty So Far
Chekutty was conceived as a three pronged strategy in the post flood scenario.
1) Create an immediate livelihood options for the affected weavers in Chendamangalam. We thought the key was to ensure that they earn with dignity and not be dependent on any charity. Those working in the sector were of the opinion that if they were not put back on the looms, there was a high chance of many of them leaving the sector looking for alternate jobs as they are always paid per piece they produce and not by a monthly salary. They needed engagement. They needed jobs and wages immediately.
2) Explore a community based, crowd sourced model to transform Kerala from a charity mode to an enterprise mode in the rehabilitation phase. A lot of our efforts were going in supporting each other with whatever came our way. We felt it was important to ensure that those receiving benefits shouldn't feel at the mercy of others without dignity and hence any support system should be based on their skill sets especially when it comes to the weavers. 3) Celebrate the resilience and solidarity of Malayalees who overcame the flood. What we witnessed during and post floods were unprecedented in many ways. Everywhere in the world, when a disaster of this scale strikes it's always the locals who turn to be best respondeers including the affected ones. However, the empathy, compassion and effectiveness shown by the average man/ woman on the field and how they overcame the difficulties as well as how they continue to volunteer for others will remain a case study in international relief management. We thought a mascot like Chekutty should be positioned to celebrate this
Since 9th of September 2018, Chekutty has captured the imagination of public as a mascot of resilience. Purely through the sales of Chekutty over website we have sold 160,000 chekuttys. 40 lacs were raised through this.
Weavers Yarn bank had close to 23 lacs worth yarn still lying down with them, which could not be put back on to the loom any longer. However those were later converted into conference lanyards.
More than 40 lacs came through various other contributions including CSR funds. Many times when enquiries came about wanting to do something for weaving sector, they were directed to respective weaving societies. our estimate is that roughly about 82 lacs came through this campaign. ( 120000 USD)
Sarees worth 1300 INR in the market, but which had zero value because of stains and dirt attained a price between 7500 to 9000 INR because of the 250-360 dolls ( chekutties) that were sold at a minimum of 25 INR per piece. Weavers even during their best time never had seen this kind of financial support for their products.
The positioning, the story of the people and places and the need for positive stories. Chekutty wasn't pretentious. Chekutty was a true reflection of what Malayalees were when we first spoke about Chekutty. Chekutty was each of us and people could relate to the concept irrespective of their social and financial background.
All the waste clothes were initially collected from Karimpadam Handloom Weavers Society H 191, Chendamangalam, where Sri Ajith Kumar is the Secretary of the society. Now we have also started to collect salvaged clothes from another unit of 3476 Kuriapilly Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society in Chendamangalam, a women managed cooperative who lost five lakhs worth clothes.
The Process: (From Collection to Delivery)
The waste clothes were chlorinated, washed, dried and handed over to our designated community volunteers.
These clothes (and yarn) were then distributed amongst our volunteers who run workshops where they make 'Chekutties'
Volunteer groups took the initiative to learn how to make Chekuttys from one of our trainers. Such groups range from students, teachers, National Service Scheme volunteers, political parties, religious groups, educational institutions, student police cadets, software companies within IT Parks.
So far, we have conducted more than 240 workshops within India including every districts in Kerala and places like Bangalore, Delhi, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkatta to name a few. International workshops have happened also in USA, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, UK, UAE and Brazil to name a few others.
These Chekuttys were then returned back to the central collection centre if in India (working out of volunteer homes) and distributed to those who have placed the order through the website www.chekutty.in
Each Chekutty is priced at a minimum of INR 25, customers are welcome to purchase at any rate above this. (We have interesting orders where a consumer placed orders for 12000 Chekuttys at 3 lacs rs and to create a multiplier effect, contributed 12000 chekuttys back to us. With the top up of 10 INR from Federal Bank this 12,000 chekuttys worth increased to 844,000 INR)
All the money collected so far was paid through bank transaction/online payment DIRECTLY to weavers’ society.