RIDE and their tireless work to improve rural communities

RIDE (Rural Institute for Development Education) was founded in 1984 to help and improve the quality of lives of the disadvantaged residents of rural South India, particularly in and around the Kanchipuram area. Research in 1997 indicated the number of child laborers employed by hand looms in the weaver’s district of Kanchipuram exceeded 40,000! Through their tireless and persistent efforts, RIDE worked on bringing this number down to less than 4000 in 2007. RIDE continues to work to eliminate child labor, promote economic and social justice for women, provide essential medical and educational services, and cultivate economic opportunity throughout the region.

Their motto ‘educate to empower’ embodies the central approach and goal of all their activities. An essential element of their strategy to eliminate child labor is the establishment of ‘Bridge School centers’ and evening schools (The ‘Bridge Schools’ are a pathway for children not exposed to schools into mainstream education). Situated in rural areas near home weaving industries and rock quarries, these schools focus on education and nutrition in order to help create future generations in rural communities who are literate and healthy, who are positive about the future, and who have the tools to escape the cycle of poverty.

The Sari scarf project was a creative initiative launched by RIDE with the help of Emma McGinn, a designer from the UK. The project sources fine hand woven cotton saris from the local looms and employs rural women to sew scarves from the material. It provides employment to poor and destitute women from the local villages and pays twice the fair wage for their work. If the fine cotton weave and colorful patterns or the employment of rural women are not enough reasons to purchase these scarves, here’s one more – Seva has partnered with RIDE to additionally set aside a part of the proceeds from the sale of these scarves for the midday meal program to provide nutritious meals to the children. Proceeds from one scarf can provide midday meals to a child for one full week!

Visit RIDEIndia.org for more information about RIDE and our gallery page for pictures of the scarves! You can purchase them here (If you wish to purchase the scarves in bulk (5 pieces or more) at a discounted price, please contact us).