<p>The number of slum dwellers in our country is alarming. Rural migration to urban cities is one of the major reasons for this unacceptable growth. The hopes and dreams of these rural immigrants are crushed ruthlessly and they realise that their expectations for a greater life are reduced to nothing but a distant dream.</p>
<p>The need of the hour is to generate sustainable employment in rural villages so that they can live a healthy and satisfied life without leaving the comfort of their homes and their communities. In 2008, two people understood this need and envisaged an India where every village would be developed, where every person residing in these villages would be educated, self reliant and would have the freedom to make their own independent decisions. These two people were Sonnie Kath from Nagaland and her friend and now co- founder Neel from West Bengal. Together they started an initiative based on the principle of Personal Social Responsibility and created &nbsp;Exotic Echo. Exotic Echo is an organisation that came into being in 2008 with the collective efforts of Sonnie and Neel. Their vision is simple and their goal clear. They want each household in every village to be self sustainable. They believe that every household must have a minimum supplementary income of 2000 Rupees per month. Their aim is to create sustainable employment using the inherent skill sets of the village folk as leverage, so that they find no need to seek jobs in urban cities and can collectively contribute to the development of their villages. &nbsp;</p>
<p>Sonnie and Neel &nbsp;started their project in the remote and unheard till now, village of Diezephe in Nagaland. . Diezephe like many other villages is the north east is famous for its handloom and weaving. What is unique about this particular handloom is that there are only 3 living tribes in the world to employ the Loin Loom weaving method. These are the Nagas in India and Myanmar , the Incas in Peru and Bolivia and the Myans in south of Mexico and Guatemala. However, weaving in Nagaland had to a large extent become a dying art because of the expensive raw materials and the high labour charges as the products are completely handwoven. In Diezephe weaving had reduced to practising it only on ceremonious ocassions. Exotic Echo understood the importance of reviving this art and encouraged the weavers to use their skills to their advantage and change it from a hobby into an occupation. What is interesting about Exotic Echo is that it supports the quintessential support system of the village people- the Self Help Groups(SHG). &nbsp;They currently have around 27 SHGS associated registered under them out of which 10 are weaving Self Help Groups. They provide employment to the members of the SHGS registered with them and work for the basic upliftment of these people. The members of the weaving SHGS are all women and Sonnie being a native of the village understands that they support huge families and have certain responsibilities towards them. Thus, the weavers under Exotic Echo work under a flexible piece wage system. The entire proceeds of the products sold by Exotic Echo goes towards supporting the weavers by taking care of the procurement of raw materials, the marketing of the products, their display in handloom exhibitions etc. From being a mere dream in 2008 to becoming an organisation that is today associated with several apex intitutions like the NABARD, the National Rural Livelihood Mission and &nbsp;National Rural Health Mission is something that Neel gets sentimental about. He believes that Exotic Echo is a medium through which the people and the government can realise that even if few funds are directed properly, it can make a huge difference to the lives of people. Having invested his own savings along with Sonnie into this venture, he still feels he has a lot to give and a lot to do to fulfil his own personal social responsibility. Infact, Exotic Echo encourages all of us to fulfill our own personal social responsibility by providing people with an opportunity to sponsor a child&rsquo;s education because they believe that one ignited mind can ignite a million. In the past year it has received sponsorship for the education of 5 children and has decided to sponsor one on their own.</p>
<p>It has conducted several SHGS animator training programmes in association with government bodies to teach weavers about the need and importance for transparency and accountability in their own weaving ventures and SHGS. Since it inception, when they started with 11 weavers, they have managed to bring under their umbrella 101 weavers who undergo a tailoring certificate programme. Their most recent endeavour was to provide the people of Diezephe with exposure in other jobs and negotiated with a yoga retreat in Goa called Samata which is open for the winter seasons for their salaries, their stay and transportation. Hence, ensuring that by the end of the season in April, the employees would have saved upto almost 50% of their salaries. This I feel is one of the stellar feature of this negotiation because it is encouraging them to save as well as experience a whole different world.</p>
<p>Exotic Echo&rsquo;s aim at improving the Human Development Index in villages and their vision to create 2400 rural jobs through a network of 15 villages still has time to manifest in the way Sonnie and Neel would like but they label themselves as a Profit making organisation and not a profit taking organisation, and they believe that as long as the development they make is focussed and the improvement they make in people&rsquo;s lives is substantial, they are bound to attain their goal very soon.&nbsp;</p>
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<p>facebook link:&nbsp;https://www.facebook.com/pages/Exotic-Echo/161714153910006</p>

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sonakshi biswas

sonakshi biswas

I m pursuing my managment degree from NM college. I love to write, click pictures and listen to music. I am huge movie buff and I love English soap operas and sit coms!