Santoshi is a 16-year-old school-going girl who lives with her parents and two younger siblings in the fast-paced city of Noida in Uttar Pradesh, north of India. Although still a teenager, she is wise beyond her years. She tells team Kufukaa, “My biggest dream is not only to share my skills with the underprivileged but to also learn from them.” She feels the world is filled with people who can help her enhance and acquire more skills. Santoshi is, of course, a born artist.
Her mother, Sonia, who cleans homes and washes utensils in three households in Noida for a meagre Rs 7,000 a month, $100, is hopeful for her elder daughter’s future with Kufukaa entering the scene.
“Santoshi was 11 when she started to show a keen interest in painting. She would look at Hindu gods and goddesses on calendars and in-home temples and replicate them immediately.” The 32-year-old woman, who hails from Madhubani district in Bihar, struggles with fluctuating finances since her husband is a daily wage laborer. “Santoshi is skilled in embroidery and the crafts which she picked up from women in neighboring households during her playtime.” She has no means to get her daughter trained but is confident that with micro-finance coming in from US-based Kufukaa, an international promoter of everything handmade, Santoshi will find her way in the world.
Santoshi also knows how to embroider expertly (self-taught) and to work sewing machines, since her mother owns and works on one too. She comes back from school around 4 pm, plays Kho-Kho (an Indian indigenous game) on rare days, leaves for tuitions after that and returns to cook dinner on most nights for the family of five. “I spend my free time watching cartoons and I love Shin Chan,” giggles Santoshi.
The teenager goes to a government school and is a student of standard VIII. She is typically an artist — happy, simple and hopeful. It was a chance fate that introduced Santoshi to Kufukaa, where the team was instantly impressed with the girl’s talents and desire to uplift her self from a routine drudgery of cleaning homes as of her mother. Kufukaa that has pledged itself to micro-financing women entrepreneurs — often of extreme circumstances, was duly impressed by the grit and focus of Santoshi and intends it to be their success story… to begin with.