REFORMATION INITIATIVES & PROJECTS FOR PRISON INMATES WITH DIRECTORATE OF CORRECTIONAL HOMES IN KOLKATA
• Rakshak Foundation started working with the Correctional Services in the year 2016.
• Since then it has done 10 projects in the 3 Correctional homes of West Bengal, namely Alipore Women’s Correctional Home, Dum Dum Central Correctional Home and Presidency Correctional Home.
• Rakshak Foundation’s areas of interventions are:
• Skill Development
• Employment Generation
• Economic Empowerment
• Acceptance and Inclusion in Society
• Restoring confidence, self-esteem and dignity
• Environment Conservation
TOTAL IMPACT- 1600 Inmates
INDIRECT IMPACT – 1600 X 4 individuals
SPOKEN ENGLISH & PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT
Spoken English class of 27 women inmates was conducted by Ms. Chaitali Das, Managing Trustee of Rakshak Foundation over a period of 10 months in the year 2016. This project inculcated in the women inmates a sense of achievement, confidence, restored their self-worth and self-esteem by improving their chances of employment post release.
LEATHER WORKSHOP UNIT
Leather Workshop Unit started in the Correctional Home with 5 leather stitching machines and 15 women inmates in the year 2017. This project provided skill training in fine leather products making to the women inmates, increasing their employability chances post release. This project restored their confidence, selfworth and self-esteem while providing them economic independence.
WASTE TO AESTHETICS PROJECT
Waste to Aesthetics project started in 2018 with 10 women inmates which later increased to 25 women inmates where old newspapers were upcycled to prepare carry bags of various sizes. Through this project we promoted eco-friendly carry bags in lieu of single-use plastic carry bags while conserving the environment. This project provided skill training in paper bags making creating employment options for the inmates post release. This project restored their confidence, self-worth and self-esteem while providing them economic independence.
HOMEOPATHY CLINIC PROJECT
Homeopathy Clinic Project commenced in the year 2017 to provide basic health treatment to the inmates to safe guard their health and well being and to make basic treatment available to all. Doctors visited the clinic regularly and Rakshak Foundation provide for the doctor’s visiting fee along with the medicines for the treatment of ailments of the inmates. This project ensured basic Right to Life behind the bars.
BASIC COMPUTER PROJECT
In an effort to aid the Government’s initiatives towards the reformation of the inmates, Rakshak Foundation through a modest initiative, donated 5 computers to the Presidency Central Correctional Home which were used to provide vocational training to the inmates in basic computers and internet surfing.
COOKIE MAKER PROJECT
‘Cookie Maker’ is an Skill Development and Women Economic Empowerment initiative towards the women inmates. The project commenced on 11th August 2019 with 18 inmates. The women were trained under several workshops by professional baker to make varieties of premium cookies and savouries while developing entrepreneurship skill. The inmates successfully learnt to make 4 types of cookies i.e. Choco Chip Cookie, Coconut Cookie, Gems Cookie and Ginger Cookies and 1 savory item i.e. cheese biscuit. The inmates have made more than 1000 cookies since the start of the project.
ADVERSITY TO EMPOWERMENT
“Women Inspiring Women ~ From Adversity to Empowerment” was an innovative initiative that is a first of its kind curated by Rakshak Foundation held at ICCR, Kolkata. Panelist Ms. Ivy Woolf Turk, formerly incarcerated and Founder of Project Liberation and a Motivational Speaker from the USA, Lovely Adhikary, former inmate of Alipore Correctional Home, India supervising “Jute Story Beyond Bars” project of Rakshak Foundation and Ms. Prerona Roy, Leadership Coach, a burn survivor, shared their heart wrenching tales and how each of them through their individual self served their purpose with strong determination, inner inspiration and support from well-wishers, family, friends and support groups which made them successful in not only overcoming their specific challenges but also made a meaningful comeback to mainstream society with dignity.
STONE CARVING WORKSHOP
Under the beautiful theme of “Let’s Hold Hands” organized from 27th March to 29th March 2017 at Bagmundi, 10 inmates of Dum Dum Central Correctional Home and Purulia Correctional Home learnt to carve out sculptures on naturally available stone boulders. The workshop was conducted under the guidance of Shri. Chitto Dey. The challenge here was to motivate and encourage the convicts to use their time and talent in creating beautiful carving in the lap of nature. Purulia is a drought prone district of West Bengal and the undulating topography makes it an ideal gateway for hikers. Rakshak Foundation believes that such a place can be developed to be a Gurukul and also attract tourists and connoisseurs of art.
Painting Project commenced in August 2017 with 10 women inmates. Rakshak Foundation is dedicated towards inculcating the creative process among the women inmates of Dum Dum Central Correctional Home to help them earn a livelihood. The purpose of this project is to boost the self-esteem of the women inmates, impart and develop their skills, act as a therapy, create strong bonding between mother inmates and their child and to create a livelihood option for them and inspire other inmates to heal through this therapy. Aitijhya Our Heritage Painting Exhibition was organized at Indian Museum to display their paintings.
LIVE PAINTING AT TATA MARATHON
10 Women inmates from Dum Dum Central Correctional Home painted live at the Kolkata Run Marathon by TATA TSK 25K. They expressed their creativity through painting. This exemplary initiative opened more doors for the women inmates under the Painting Project of Rakshak Foundation. This initiative created awareness, social acceptance, broader mindset and recognition of skill and creativity for the inmates beyond the bars.
JUTE STORY BEYOND BARS PROJECT
Jute Story Beyond Bars is an industrious project of Rakshak Foundation started in April 2017 at DCCH and PCH. Through this project we provide Skill Development in manufacturing of Jute Utility & Diversified Products of International Quality, Standard and Design while providing Economic Independence.
Currently the Team comprises of 20 inmate artisans but since commencement, we have provided training to over 200 inmates. They have progressed from shopping bags and gift bags to Home Décor, Luggage Bags, Ladies Bags, Office and School Utilities, Clothing and Accessories. This project positively engages their mind while conserving the environment.
‘Woodwork Workshop’ commenced on 13th August 2019 where the inmates were provided with skill training in wood work to craft designer home décor items, which are aesthetically fashioned. The exquisite upcycled wood products are designed using dead tree stumps and abandoned tree trunks. The designs enhance the natural aesthetics of the wood piece highlighting the beauty of nature. Under this project, 6 inmates were provided the skill training by a freelance artist. At present, the inmates have undergone the Basic Course comprising of 3 classes where they learnt to make 3 types of woodwork items namely lampshades, platters and trays and wall utility hangers.
At the Inauguration of Rakshak Foundation’s Flagship Project “Jute Story Beyond Bars” the Baul Folk Song Group comprising of six inmates from the Dum Dum Central Correctional Home performed in front of esteem dignitaries and guests at ICCR, Kolkata charming the audience with their performance.
Four Women inmates from the Alipore Women’s Correctional Home under the Spoken English Classes organized by Rakshak Foundation performed and English song “We Shall Overcome” for the first time ever in front of the large audience with confidence and elan.
RAIBENSHE FOLK DANCE
12 inmate artists of the Dum Dum Central Correctional Home performed the “Raibenshe Traditional Folk Dance” of Bengal which requires strong acrobatic skills along with dramatic music at the Inaugural Ceremony of the International Mega Fair 2020, organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata. The entire dance performance along with music was performance by the inmates. This initiative inculcated inclusivity and broader acceptance for the inmates while reminiscing the Cultural Heritage of Bengal before the National and International Delegates at the event
DUM DUM CENTRAL CORRECTIONAL HOME & PRESIDENCY CORRECTIONAL HOME
Jute Story Beyond Bars production units were launched at the Dumdum Central Correctional Home and Presidency Correctional Home, in association with the Directorate of Correctional Services, Government of West Bengal, in 2017. 1600 prison inmates were trained under the aegis of the foundation by trainers certified by the National Jute Board, Government of India. Advanced and basic training modules were conducted, in association with the National Jute Board. This production unit has a production capacity of 1000 products per day on an average.
The RAKSHAK HOUSE production unit was set up in 2020, for skill and livelihood development of underprivileged women and youth, especially those, who have been affected by loss of livelihood/ earning family members during the pandemic.
Production Unit in the Correctional Homes
Two jute production units in the Dumdum Central Correctional Home and Presidency Correctional Home
Production Unit at Rakshak House
Jute production unit at RAKSHAK HOUSE, Alipore
The artisans, trained under the Jute Story Beyond Bars project, create international quality, finely crafted, diversified jute products that cater to the lifestyle, home décor, fashion and utility sectors and corporate gifting. The focus is on innovation and diversified product development to create deeper market penetration and expanding the consumer base by drawing consumers from all strata of the society. Thus, creating an effective circle of responsible production and consumption
The underprivileged section of the society needs to be pulled out of production of biohazardous materials so that eco-friendly products are produced by the grass root people and eco-consciousness percolates to the lowest strata of the society
Eradication of biohazardous materials is possible by presenting viable, sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to various customer segments
Responsible production and consumption is possible only when people are oriented to use of eco-friendly jute as an alternative to bio hazardous materials. Mass distribution drives, corporate gifting and innovative merchandizing and marketing are required to create lifestyle shifts of the consumers and the producers. Global advocacy in favor of eco-friendly jute and mentorship to grass-root entrepreneurs plays an important part in brining about this positive transition
Mass distribution and awareness drives, in association with various governmental departments, prestigious institutions and organizations, to create awareness and encourage lifestyle shifts in favor of eco-friendly, diversified jute products
Advocacy & Mentorship
Advocacy for eradication of bio-hazardous materials and promotion for ecofriendly jute products is done at international and national platforms. Undertake various mentorship programs to inculcate eco-consciousness among grass root entrepreneurs, women and youth
Launch of Jute Story Beyond Bars
Jute Story Beyond Bars, Products being launched at ICCR by Former IG & DGP Sri Arun Gupta, Padma Shree Smt. Usha Uthup, Managing Trustee of Rakshak Foundation, Smt. Chaitali Das, Bishop Raju and Artist Sri Chitto Dey
Jute Story Beyond Bars (JSBB) is the flagship project of Rakshak Foundation, initiated by Social Entrepreneur, Chaitali Das. It is a unique effort to revive eco-friendly jute through popularizing its use in daily life. It is an effort to reform prison inmates through skilling them in making diversified jute products and encouraging responsible livelihood development for their economic betterment.
Jute Story Beyond Bars is operational since 2016 at Dumdum Correctional Home and Presidency Correctional Home, Alipore. It is an umbrella project under which various other allied projects are undertaken. Chaitali’s relentless work of promoting and reviving jute has led her to be known as a ‘Jute Revivalist’.
JSBB endeavours to contribute to the revival of Jute as an eco-friendly, bio-degradable, affordable and strong fabric which can be used in diversified forms and in diverse sectors. Jute can be high class and fashionable, she believes that much remains to be done, to exploit the full potential of this important natural resource.
It also aims to change the prejudice against prison inmates, a human capital that lies languishing behind the tall walls of confinement. She advocates that given an opportunity, positive direction and right skills, every human life is capable of contributing positively to the society.
The little girls of Rakshak’s New Horizon Holistic Development Centre were the the special guests at the inauguration of Jute Story Beyond Bars, Production Unit at Dumdum Central Correctional Home, Kolkata.
Inauguration of Jute Story Beyond Bars, Products was attended our Fashion Designer, Raj Lakshmi Syam, Principal Commercial Officer of US Consulate General, Mr. Jonathan Ward, JP Agarwal, Board Member Brigadier Balbir Singh and Anita Singh, RJ Roy et al
An audio visual documentary on Chaitali’s Dubai visit to receive the ‘International Green Ambassador Award’ at ‘Confluence’, Bharat Mahotsav and also the launch of the Limited Edition, Premium Jute Bag, made from the reclaimed jute of the Guinness World Record holding, largest Jute Bag in the World
Guinness World Record
Chaitali Das, at the Announcement Day Event of creating the Guinness World Record for the Largest Jute Bag in the World
Chaitali Das had a spectacular dream of catapulting jute to a startling height. She and her Foundation created the Guinness World Record for the largest jute bag in the world, on the 7th day of January 2021.
The main objective behind this project was to draw global attention towards Indian Jute and underprivileged Indian Artisans. This historical feat created a huge world-wide visibility, and conveyed a strong message of a ‘Greener, Healthier & Inclusive World”.
She had engaged released prison inmates, women and youth from the urban slums and vulnerable sections of the society, survivors of domestic violence to make this bag, aided by supervisors & artisans. Taking part in this prestigious world-class event helped to boost their self-confidence and pride.
Chaitali, her son, Rishavraj, Jaydip Das, CEO, Rakshak Subidha Pvt. Ltd., Surveyor, Biplab Dey, Witnesses, Neel Kankani and Anand Sureka and the artisans at the record breaking moment
Chaitali, with Sponsors, Chairman SPMP, Vinit Kumar, Jute Commissioner, Moloy Chandan Chakraborty, Vinod Lahoti, Director, Goldex Pens, JP Agarwal, Jaydip Das, CEO, Rakshak Subidha Pvt. Ltd., Surveyor, Biplab Dey, Witnesses, Neel Kankani and Anand Sureka and Master of Ceremony, Former Wing Commander Deejay Kler
The jubilant artisans of the Guinness World Record Holding, Largest Jute Bag in the World at the end of the Announcement Day Ceremony, at the St. Thomas School grounds, Khidderpore.
Chaitali, being congratulated by Rakshak Team members on her stunning achievement.
An audio visual documentary on Chaitali’s stunning achievement of the Guinness World Record for the Largest Jute Bag in the World.
The largest jute bag measures 30.68 m (100 ft 8 in) wide and 24.87 m (81 ft 7 in) high and was achieved by Chaitali Das and Rakshak Foundation (both India) in Kolkata, West Bengal, India on 7 January 2021.
PAAT RANI (Queen of Jute) – Heritage Tram
Heritage Tram- PAAT RANI, a unique store-on-wheels
Heritage tram, PAAT RANI decorated with jute and fairy light
The makeover to the Heritage tram’, ‘PAAT RANI’, was to create a larger-than-life mobile showcase of diversified Jute products. It was a unique concept mooted by Chaitali Das as a tribute to the city of Kolkata.
This special tram, displayed and promoted diversified jute products in a never-before-witnessed extravaganza and established jute as a fashionable material for diversified uses. It was Chaitali’s idea of a gift to the citizens of Kolkata, who took a special heritage tram journey through the city, enjoying the best of the city’s street food, onboard.
This project joins many relevant dots with immense beauty and positive purpose.
Chaitali Das, with Chairman of WBTC, IPS, Rachhpal Singh, Dy. Chairperson, Swarnakamal Saha and others at the launch
Chaitali took diversified jute products made by prison inmates to the hi fashion ramp alongside the works of renowned fashion designers like late Sharbari Dutta, Shamlu Dudeja, Agnimitra Paul, Abhishek Dutta, et al.
Through her initiative, Jute Story Beyond Bars participated in various fashion shows like ICC Textile and Fashion Show 2019, Allure Fashion Tour 2019, Angavastra, Summer Fashion Show, Ordinance Club 2018, Winter Carnival, Lake Club, 2018, Angavastra, Winter Fashion Show, Ordinance Club 2018 to promote the jute of Bengal and diversified Jute products as fashion statements and lifestyle.
Chaitali Das, at the ICC Textile and Fashion Show, 2019 alongside Sanjay Jain, ICC, National Textile Committee, Sanjay Jain, fashion designers, Late Sharbari Dutta, Shamlu Dudeja, Agnimitra Paul, Abhishek Dutta et al.
Models displaying Jute apparels and accessories at the finale of the ICC Textile & Fashion Show
Showstopper Chaitali with models, at the Allure Fashion Tour, 2019
Finale at the Allure Fashion Tour Show at the Shisha
Models displaying Jute Story products at the ICC Textile and Fashion Show
Zee Bangla covered the ICC Textile and Fashion Show 2019 at Kolkata and highlighted the Jute Story section as it targeted to project the Jute of Bengal and the underprivileged artisans working under the project, 'Jute Story Beyond Bars'.
It also features the speech of the former Governor of West Bengal, Honourable Sri Kesari Nath Tripathi, where he congratulates Chaitali and her work with the jute and with the inmate artisans from the Correctional Homes of Kolkata.
Patuli Floating Market- Boat Store
The one-of-its kind floating store was a dream that Chaitali wanted to realize. Rakshak Foundation set up a Jute Story Beyond Bars Store in the Patuli Floating Market, in 2018, which was allotted to the foundation by KMDA, Govt. of West Bengal, for promoting a plastic free market.
Eco-friendly shopping bags were available at our Jute Story Boat Store. The shoppers were encouraged to use eco-friendly bags and plastic was banned in the market.
Boat Stores at the KMDA Patuli Floating Market, Kolkata
Inauguration of the Jute Story Boat Store, by the Hon'ble Mayor of Kolkata, Janab Firhad Hakim and the Hon'ble Minister for Correctional Administration, Sri Ujjwal Biswas
The Hon'ble Mayor of Kolkata, Janab Firhad Hakim and Hon'ble Minister for Correctional Administration, Sri Ujjwal Biswas, Hon'ble Consul General of China to Kolkata, H.E. Ma Zhan Wu, Former IG and DGP of Correctional Services, Govt. of West Bengal, Sri Arun Gupta
Jute products made by inmate artisans, in the Jute Story Boat Store at the Patuli Floating Market
Chaitali Das with Hon'ble Mayor of Kolkata, Janab Firhad Hakim and Hon'ble Consul General of China to Kolkata, H.E. Ma Zhan Wu
Sanmarg, covered the inauguration of the Jute Story Boat store at the floating market, in Patuli, Kolkata.
It covers the speeches of Hon'ble Mayor of Kolkata, Janab Firhad Hakim and the Hon'ble Minister for Correctional Administration, Sri Ujjwal Biswas on the occasion.
Women Inspiring Women- Adversity to Empowerment
Speakers, Ivy Woolf Turk, Lovely Adhikary, Prerona Roy and Carlyta Mouhini at the event
Chaitali Das with Hon'ble Minister for Women and Child Welfare, Dr. Shashi Panja and Former, IG and DGP of Correctional Services, Sri Arun Gupta at the Women Inspiring Women event at ICCR, Kolkata.
This unique and path-breaking initiative, ‘Women Inspiring Women- Adversity to Empowerment’, was conceptualized by Chaitali Das, as an effort to disseminate progressive thought within society and to promote global sisterhood supporting women in distress. It was organized by Rakshak Foundation on 26th March 2018 at ICCR, Kolkata.
The event, was inaugurated by Honourable Minister, Dr. Shashi Panja. Panelist Ms. Ivy Woolf Turk, formerly prison inmate and Founder of Project Liberation and a Motivational Speaker from the USA, Lovely Adhikary, former prison inmate of Alipore Correctional Home, India supervising ‘Jute Story Beyond Bars’ project of Rakshak Foundation and Ms. Prerona Roy, Leadership Coach, a burn survivor shared their heart wrenching experiences and how they dealt with these adverse circumstances through their individual dint of purpose, strong determination, inner inspiration. They were successful in not only overcoming their individual challenges but also made a meaningful comeback to the mainstream society with dignity.
Prof. Shabina N. Omar, beautifully sums up the importance and relevance of the event and emphasizes the need for more such initiatives as it makes space for action and support of women who really need it. She also emphasizes the need to break out of prejudices and embrace the various perspectives, international, national and local and applauds Chaitali's thoughtful and pertinent action to bring important voices to the fore.
Aitijhya- The Heritage of Kolkata
Chaitali always believed that mental and emotional expression plays a huge role in reforming a human being from within. She has always endeavoured to bring out the inner most thoughts and talents of underprivileged people through promoting their participation in art and culture.
Her foundation promoted around 33 prison inmates to participate in a one-year long training and mentoring workshop under the guidance of eminent artists, Wasim Kapoor and Shuvaprasanna prior to an exhibition, held at the prestigious Indian Museum, Kolkata, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in The World Heritage Week on the theme ‘Aitijhya- The Heritage of Kolkata’, to celebrate the spirit of Kolkata.
Chaitali Das delivering her welcome address at the Indian Museum, Kolkata
With the Hon'ble Dy. High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Janab Toufiq Hasan and Director General of Indian Museum, Sri.
Chaitali Das and the honourable guests with the paintings done by the inmate artists
Nabadisha Smart Class
Inauguration of the NabaDisha, Tollygunj, Smart Class, by Hon'ble Minister-in-Charge. Department of School Education, Govt. of West Bengal, Sri Partha Chatterjee, Hon'ble Consul General of China to Kolkata, HE Ma Zhanwu, Joint Commissioner of Police, Kolkata, Sri Sujay Chanda, Chaitali Das and other dignitaries.
Chaitali conceptualized the first-ever ‘SMART Class’ for the under privileged children at NABADISHA, who live on the streets, school drop-outs, aged between 4-15 years.
This initiative of her foundation supported by Kolkata Police, H. E. Consul General, Peoples Republic of China of Kolkata, was inaugurated by the Honourable Education Minister, Sri Partha Chatterjee and H.E. Consul General of the People’s Republic of China to Kolkata, Mr. Ma Zhan Wu.
The Smart Class was set up with the aim of holistic development of underprivileged children, inculcating values and good habits, engaging them with educational games, folk tales, painting, music and dance through interactive and fun learning through smart educational tools.
Global Mentoring Walk
Chaitali Das, as an Alumna of Fortune US State Department’s Global Women Mentoring Partnership Programme, organized The Vital Voices, ‘Global Mentoring Walk’ in Kolkata as a mentor and flag bearer of the event.
It was organized to observe International Women’s Day, in solidarity with women around the world in 174 walks across the 62 countries . The event was inaugurated by the Jute Commissioner, Sri Moloy Chandan Chakraborty and attended by dignitaries from the US Consulate, Vital Voices, educationists and academicians as mentors.
Flag Bearer, Chaitali Das, leading the Vital Voices, Global Mentoring Walk 2019 with
Over 200 students participated in the walk. The walk was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Women leading Sustainable Development in the World’, emphasizing on the importance of creating a clean and green environment. The positive impact of awareness, promotion and use of diversified Jute products at various levels of the society and in different sectors was discussed by the panel.
A young woman from the self-help group speaking at the inaugural event of Project Shakti
Members of Rakshak Foundation with the members of the self-help group who worked under Project Shakti
Chaitali Das actively promoted a cluster-development project to make eco-friendly jute products as a fashionable lifestyle commodity. It employed around 20 underprivileged women from urban slums of Chetla. The bags were made from recycled fabrics reclaimed from used furnishings, upholstery etc. to be donated for the Single-use Plastic prevention drive organized by the Honourable Mayor of Kolkata.
Chaitali Das distributing eco-friendly cloth bags at the Gangasagar Mela
Chaitali Das, with the young women volunteers at the Gangasagar Mela
Chaitali Das has distributed over 1.5 lakh jute and cotton bags, through various distribution drives in mega events like the Holy Gangasagar Pilgrimage, Mayor’s Cloth Bag Distribution Drive, Nabadisha Annual Sports Day and many such events. Premium bags are often been contributed as gift items in prestigious fora like Rotary club events, American Centre events, book launches, Earth day etc. She has undertaken such huge distribution drives as a mission to promote and encourage the use of eco-friendly jute and cotton bags as alternatives to single-use plastic bags.
Relief materials for Yaas Cyclone Relief ready for despatch to Kultali, Sundarbans
Chaitali Das, at the Belur Math, donating an oxygen concentrator to the infirmary at the Math for treatment of COVID patients
Chaitali has been awarded by several Human Rights and Civil Society organizations for her exemplary service to humanity during the first and second waves of the COVID pandemic as well as for people devastated by the Amphan and Yaas Cyclone Relief initiatives in the midst of the pandemic lockdown.
Over 1.5 lakh meals were served and 1 lakh COVID kits and masks were distributed under these initiatives. She has donated an oxygen concentrator to Belur Math, Ramkrishna Mission.