Against All Odds - Lockdown Stories From Our Eri Silk Rearers

We Are There for Our Eri Silk Rearers in Good Times and in Bad

A Pandemic That Shook All of Us

A rare disaster, the coronavirus pandemic, has created a lot of problems in the whole world. The virus is accelerating at a very high rate in many countries. Humanity is facing its greatest challenge. The real vaccine to stop this is our cooperation and following the rules and regulation stated by the government; our state, Meghalaya has been under lockdown since 23rd March 2020. We have been housebound with strict orders not to step out to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.

We Resorted to Prayer During The Lockdown

There had been no positive cases reported in our state since the lockdown started. We were hoping that the lockdown would be relaxed on the 16th of April 2020 and were looking for better days soon. A novel initiative known as “Meghalaya prays” was taken up by our Chief Minister to pray for the state. Yes, the situation did change, but it changed from bad to worse. On 15th April 2020, the first positive case was reported in our state. We were all startled, and panic struck. Immediately a complete lockdown was imposed in the whole state. I believed our prayers were answered because if the first case was not reported on the 15th, the lockdown would have been relaxed on April 16th the virus could have spread at a faster pace. Fortunately, it was brought under control.

Farmers And Farm Helpers Took a Hit

Only a few people were infected by the virus in our state, but there were many farmers, daily wage workers, weavers etc. who were severely affected by the lockdown. They were not able to go to work, nor sell their products. They did not have that freedom that they usually have. I would say it is a hopeless situation for them because they rely mainly on the support of the government. They feared the virus and imagined the worst. They felt that dark clouds loomed over their lives, but they also believed that every dark cloud has a silver lining.

Glad Muezart Was Able to Help

Muezart cares for its partners in the rural villages. We do not want to be with them only when everything is running smoothly, but we want to be with them also when there are difficulties and especially during a crisis like this.

"I contacted our Eri silk partners over the phone to ask them how they are doing and the situation in their village" says Khraw at Muezart. "They told me their stories, and here are two happy stories that I want to share with you."

Kong Molina - Eri Silk Rearer From Umden

During this lockdown, we asked Kong Molina and her team to make the best use of their time, and we assured them that we would be giving them work to do, so that they can earn. Kong Molina was happy to get our call. She said that she and her team are grateful to be a part of Muezart because, during this lockdown, they can earn and do something instead of sitting idle at home.

Kong Molina is processing the Eri silk cocoons and drying them and making them ready for our inventory. The women in her team are hand spinning yarn in their own houses adhering to the social distancing norms. She uses the community wash area to rinse and clean the processed cocoons and yarn since it's not being used due to the lockdown. She said her children enjoyed this short trip out of their home. Kong Molina and her team are also farmers, but there is no point going to the farm during this lockdown because they cannot sell their produce. They are spending most of their time doing Eri silk related work. Reality is that they are not earning as much as they usually did before the lockdown, but the money they receive during this lockdown is essential to them.

Kong Molina also added that during this crisis, she was able to train her children in processing the cocoons and spinning. Her husband also helps in winding the yarn. Her whole family is into Eri silk processing these days. When all her family members are contributing to this, she feels that it strengthens the family bond.

I know that after a long and tiring day, they would be having dinner together in their small beautiful home with joy and happiness.

community washing area is a great place to wash eri silk cocoons

washing degummed eri silk cocoons and yarn

rinsing degummed eri silk cocoons

The making of eri silk lollipop

Kong Tmung - Eri Silk Rearer From Diwon

Kong Tmung had a lot to say during our call. She wants back that freedom she had before the lockdown. She wants that freedom to work, and the joy of work, where they are laughing and sharing stories with her team. She wants to attend church like she usually does. It is like a nightmare for her. She wants this to end soon.

She is a hardworking lady; she does not want to waste even a single day and needs to earn so that she can support her family during this lockdown.

Muezart had something for her to do as well. She can earn by processing the raw cocoons, but she cannot do it alone. She needs help, and her team compromises of members from nearby villages. So, like any enterprising woman she got her two sons to help her. Now with her sons help she can do what she loves to do, work. 'Finally' she says that she can also train her sons and earn at the same time. It is inspiring to see that she has turned this time of difficulty into an opportunity. Kong Tmung wants her children to take over her business in the future. She wants her children to see that Eri silkworm rearing and related work is an opportunity for them. Now her sons are learning from her and following in her footsteps.

Taking delivery of freshly harvested Eri silk cocoons

Spinning yarn with a traditional drop spindle

hanging up freshly dyed eri silk yarn with her son

Degummed Eri silk cocoons put out for drying

Rising Against All Odds

Against all the odds, they are turning this lockdown into an opportunity, and this makes us at Muezart happy. This lockdown has not only created a strong bond within the weavers’ families, where they can spend their day and nights together, but it has also strengthened our relationship with the weavers.

Grateful that we are getting opportunities to help our Eri silk partners.

As narrated by Khraw. You can read about Khraw here.

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