Jute Story Beyond Bars, a noble initiative by humanitarian and social entrepreneur Chaitali Das of Rakshak Foundation now boasts a section dedicated to jute products at the Oxford Bookstore, Park Street. Well-known author Shobha De was present to inaugurate the exclusive counter along with Maina Bhagat, Director of Oxford Bookstore and Debashis Chakraborty, Superintendent, Dum Dum Correctional Home and Lovely Adhikari, former inmate and now supervisor of Jute Story Beyond Bars on Sunday January 14.
Talking about the initiative, Chaitali Das of Rakshak Foundation said, “Jute Story Beyond Bars is just one year old and it has been a fantastic journey for me. The products have been showcased in SAARC, BIMSTEC, IITF Delhi, and TOIL Mumbai too. I want to use of eco friendly jute across Bengal and inculcate skill development and promote creativity. The inmates of the correctional homes create the jute products which is now getting a voice in mainstream society. It is our responsibility as human beings to support and uplift these inmates of our society and make them economically stronger for a better future.”
Jute Story Beyond Bars is under the Vatavaran Rakshak Project in collaboration with the Directorate of Correctional Services, Government of West Bengal India. Inmates of prisons have had skill development training by expert trainers empanelled with the National Jute Board and are creatively engaged in the crafting of artisanal products from jute. The production by inmates is supplemented by like items crafted by women from the economically depressed sections of urban and rural West Bengal which helps in their economic empowerment.
“Jute Story Beyond Bars is a great concept and i am pleasantly surprised to see the creativity in the products. While we know the life in a prison is gloomy, this initiative helps to channelize the energy of the inmates in the most positive way. The products should definitely be exported too. I wish them all the success,” said Shobha De.
Maina Bhagat said, “Jute Story Beyond Bars focuses on our local material and handicraft and therefore it’s a great way to sustain and encourage local talent and we are very happy to collaborate with them at Oxford Bookstore.”
Speaking on the subject of the inmates, Debashis Chakraborty said, “The inmates don’t work with their hands or eyes but every thread of the jute products are woven with emotions. Living in a prison can be like living in a dungeon but Jute Story Beyond Bars provides them with hope and gives them a sense of freedom.”
Jute Story Beyond Bars has stunning products ranging from table mat sets, shopping bags, cushion covers, rugs, magazine holders, coasters and other customised items. Fund generated by this initiative is used for sustaining the project, harnessing creativity, engaging the artisans and empowering lives while conserving the environment.