• Saturday, May 23, 2015 - 05:30
Lakshmi Menon, an interior, jewellery, fashion and handicrafts designer, is also known as a social worker making a difference.   Menon, who hails from Kanjiramattom, near Kottayam district, Kerala, gained national attention in 2013 for her work in bringing light to the slums of Bhopal using water bulbs.   But in Kerala, Menon is also known as the leader of a pure living enterprise. Pure living activities’ range from waste paper consumption to handicraft production.   Among all, the most appreciated is the WICKSDOM, also known as “Ammoommathiri” (“Grandmother’s wicks”), where a group of elderly women make wicks and earn an income of their own.   “Once I visited an old age home, I asked an elderly woman there that what did she wish to have, she replied me that she would like to have a parippuvada (a snack made of dal). It costs just Rs 5 but still she was not able to afford. That forced me to find an income for our grand mothers who have been abandoned by their relatives,” Menon tells The News Minute.   The WICKSDOM project was exclusively for the elderly in some old age homes of Kochi city.    “The idea struck when I saw my grandmother rolling out wicks for her children and relatives,” she said.   Women, as well as men, in old age homes, who roll out the wicks, earn Rs 3 for every bundle of 30 wicks.It started with just five women and now has over 30 members working. And along with self-esteem, the activity has become a thing of joy in their old age.   “They love to do it; if we can market it properly they have the capacity to earn Rs 150 per day” she said.   Most of WICKSDOM’s products are distributed via temples and small shops. Menon said that there is large potential for temples providing a good market for the wicks rolled out by the elderly since the women consider it as an offering, “most of them prays while rolling it, they do it as an offering to god, some used to fast while rolling it”.   Despite the success of Ammommathiri, which will celebrate its second anniversary in April, she said they face some marketing challenges.   “Through this the women has been getting their pocket money, but we face a lot of difficulties. Though we sell it to some temples, many are not ready to accept it since we don’t provide any commission to them as other companies do” Menon said.   Menon added: “Other wick brands  are available at Rs 3 for a packet, since it is machine made, while ours is of Rs 5 as it is handmade. This is a big challenge for us as our making cost is Rs 4 per packet.”   However the project could bring happiness to many women who were earlier deprived of consideration and care.   “Most of them were abandoned and orphaned by the relatives. They won’t even have a single penny with them. But now am sure at least few of them able to meet their small wishes like visiting a friend, going for a funeral, to have a snack etc…” Menon said.   Image Courtesy: Lakshmi Menon