“I am able to ensure that my children continue to get a good education. I am also able to partially support my 80-year- old mother who lives in Tiruvannamalai.”
Ask Roslilina Mark aka Rosie what she did on her recent trip to Sweden, and she says, “I demonstrated working with banana bark at an event organised by Ikea and ate lots of bread. I was also asked to talk about the issues that I face at home. While I did talk a little, I was quite scared as I couldn’t speak English.” A visit to a foreign country would have been unimaginable for this mother of two if not for Industree. Currently a master trainer with Bangalore Greenkraft Producer Company, Rosie is originally from Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.
One of three girls, she was raised by her mother and her aunt, after she lost her father when she was two years old. She studied till her 8th standard in the local school and then dropped out. When she was around 17 years old, she moved to Chennai to learn tailoring. At the age of 22, Rosie got married and moved to Bengaluru with her husband. With the cost of living significantly higher in the city, she had to take up work. While tailoring was a career option, she says she had lost interest by then, so she began working as a cook. She had been working for about a year, when she got pregnant. She returned to her hometown for one and a half years before she came back to Bengaluru. Once she returned, she was on the lookout for another job, when she heard of Industree. Since then there has been no looking back. Today, Rosie has been with the organisation for over 15 years. What’s more, she even managed to secure a job for her husband as a packer in the warehouse; he too served a 10 year stint.
From starting out as as a checker in the warehouse, Rosie has scaled up the ranks to become a master trainer today, specialising with banana bark handicrafts. In the time she has been here, she has donned multiple roles—helper, trimmer, checker, and when the situation has called for it, even a cleaner—and her salary has more than quadrupled. As a master trainer, she is in charge of preparing samples for banana bark handicrafts that are to be manufactured by artisans. In addition, she plays a crucial role in Industree’s mission to empower women - as part of Industree Skill Transform, she has been training artisans on working with banana bark handicrafts, enabling them to pass on the skill to more artisans from their respective self-help groups (SHG) in towns in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. She says being able to pass on this skill makes her feel like she has done something good.
Rosie is also the mother of two children. Working at Industree, she says, has ensured that she can educate her two children - her son has just entered junior college, and her daughter is in the tenth standard. All she wants for them is to study well, and find a job that interests them. When her son was in his sixth standard, she availed of a loan from the SHG that she was a part of, to pay for his school admission. She also says that she has relatives who point out that her children lead a better quality of life, considering theirs is a dual income home.
On asking her to define what Industree is trying to do, she says, “They are trying to find employment for the poor, and that is not what goes on in other factories, where it is only about business. In addition, they also get us orders, some of them from abroad even, as is the case with Ikea. She holds Ikea in special regard. Ever since the Ikea order has come in, she says there has been regular work, and she hopes that more such work will come in. She says that as a result of the constant demand for handicrafts, women like her are able to work consistently and improve their quality of life. “I am able to ensure that my children continue to get a good education. I am also able to partially support my 80- year-old mother who lives in Tiruvannamalai,” she says. Another upside to her visit to Sweden is that her children use it as ammunition in their interactions with friends. “They are very proud of me,” she says beaming. Should she be given a chance to go abroad again, Rosie says she will talk more confidently, before she quickly adds, “Please convey my gratitude to Ikea - for letting me visit their country and their company.”
For now, Rosie is more than happy working at Industree and is content to grow old with what she calls her second family.