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    Get your hands on accessories made with recycled fabric by the NGO, Milana

    At Milana, an NGO that helps HIV infected families in Austin Town, friendly faced women are busy bent over colourful scraps of pretty fabric. They are creating accessories and baby products out of textiles curated from the excess of tailors’ workshops around the neighbourhood. A new initiative called Samhati was kickstarted in order to contribute to the lives of the women the NGO supports.
    “The ladies we help are all HIV infected. Most of them contracted the condition unknowingly, from their husbands. At first they are completely depressed, because they think that it’s a death sentence and unaware that it can be controlled with daily medication. We get them jobs, give them the treatment required and arrange self help meetings. Samhati is a way to help these women make some money and also learn a new skill,” says Jyothi Kiran, the founder of Milana. From charming cotton tote bags that scream summer to adorable baby dresses in the most prettiest shades of pastel, and kitschy folders to cosy looking patchwork baby quilts, each piece is truly one of a kind and entirely hand crafted. The women are trained by Shabnam Zehra of Ethnocraft, a home decor label that specialises in upcycled products.
    Amidst the laughter and camaraderie, we spoke to Veena R (name changed), who told us her story. “When we found out that my husband was infected, I was asked to get myself checked. That’s when I learned that I was infected too. I had lost all hope and was ready to die. Just at the right time, I came across Milana, which has helped lead a normal life,” she shares. “Projects like this give us something to look forward to. It’s great to be able to create such amazing things and learn new skills,” she says in conclusion.
    `60 upwards. At Austin Town. Details: 25545691

    – Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo

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