Crafting Opportunities: Empowerment Journey with Shayya

In the heart of Kerala, a powerful initiative named Shayya is quietly transforming lives while addressing pressing challenges. At the helm of this endeavor is Lakshmi Menon, a visionary with a heart dedicated to positive change. Through Shayya, Lakshmi not only provides sustainable bedding solutions but also champions employment opportunities for local women in need.

With an astute eye for potential, Lakshmi identified tailors stitching Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gowns and approached them to collect the scrap cloth. But that’s just the beginning of her innovative journey. She also reached out to local women from her community who had lost their livelihoods due to the lockdown. Lakshmi’s proposition was simple yet powerful – to engage these women in crafting Shayyas, not just as a means of income but as a vehicle for empowerment.

Ten women were employed for Rs 300 per day, crafting one Shayya each. What’s noteworthy is the evolution in production methods. Previously, it took three women to create one bedroll – one to braid, and two to align the ends. Lakshmi’s ingenuity led to the introduction of a 6×4 ft plywood frame fitted with nails on either side. This innovative upgrade streamlined the process, enabling a single woman to make two Shayyas in a day.

Lakshmi’s mini production unit sprang to life just three days ago, and the results are already promising. Over 15 pieces have been created, each a testament to the dedication of the women involved. But Lakshmi’s mission goes beyond mere production – it’s about meaningful distribution. Her vision is to distribute these Shayyas for free across Kerala’s panchayats, amplifying their impact while reducing waste and offering comfort to those in need.

The Amballur Panchayat’s Covid Care Centre has already experienced the positive transformation that Shayya brings. Beena Mukundan, the Standing Committee Chairperson, shares, “With Lakshmi’s ingenious idea, we are able to reduce the waste generated, expenses incurred, and offer patients comfortable bedding.” The ripple effect of this initiative reaches even further. Lakshmi’s outreach on social media led corporate companies (who wish to remain anonymous) to express their interest in purchasing and distributing these beds for free across various panchayats in Kerala.

Lakshmi’s approach to funding is as innovative as Shayya itself. For corporate entities, she charges Rs 300 for one bed – a fee equivalent to employing one worker for a day. This pragmatic approach underscores her commitment to both social impact and economic sustainability.

Through Shayya, Lakshmi Menon showcases the profound change that can emerge when compassion, resourcefulness, and meaningful employment intersect. Her journey echoes the essence of empowerment and demonstrates how small actions can spark substantial transformations. Shayya is not just about bedding; it’s about igniting hope and extending opportunities – one bedroll, one woman, and one community at a time.

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