Imphal/September 16, 2023 (SPN) | In the wake of the devastating violence in Manipur, a global entertainment brand known as ‘1 Million Heroes’ has taken on a noble initiative.
Their mission is to empower internally displaced people living in relief camps throughout the state. Specifically targeting women in these camps, ‘1 Million Heroes’ is providing training in the art of crafting amigurumi dolls with the goal of offering them a path to sustainable livelihoods.
The scale of the violence in Manipur has been immense, with over 175 lives lost, 1,108 people injured, and a staggering 4,786 homes destroyed.
To address the profound economic and psychological challenges faced by those displaced, ‘1 Million Heroes’ has embarked on a journey to teach amigurumi doll-making skills in five relief camps across Manipur.
Among the individuals benefitting from this initiative is Laishram Geeta Leima, a 36-year-old mother of three from Sugnu Awang Leikai in Kakching district. She was forced to flee her village when it came under attack by armed assailants on May 27. For Geeta, crochet has become a beacon of hope—a skill that’s not only easy to learn but also immensely satisfying and productive.
The training program commenced in August, with the aim of teaching camp residents to craft amigurumi dolls portraying five charming characters: Buddy (the pet Dog), Mitten (the Cat), Raja (the Tiger), Oliver (the Bear), and Bola (the Buddy). Doll Artist and master trainer, Utpala Longjam, reports that participants are quickly grasping the art of crochet.
Beyond providing a source of income, doll-making has emerged as a therapeutic outlet for those who have lived through violence. By channeling their memories and emotions into creating these dolls, individuals are finding renewed self-confidence and a sense of optimism.
Monish Karam, the visionary founder of ‘1 Million Heroes,’ explains that the project serves a dual purpose: offering a sustainable source of income while fostering storytelling through these delightful dolls.
‘1 Million Heroes’ manages the entire production process, from design and market research to raw material supply, branding, marketing, and sales. The trainees are tasked with crafting the dolls, and a significant portion of the proceeds from sales will directly benefit them.
This remarkable project also includes an augmented reality app that allows purchasers to interact with the dolls in 3D. This feature opens up avenues for sharing life lessons, expressing gratitude for adopting a doll, and supporting the livelihoods of those who have been displaced.
In addition to ‘1 Million Heroes,’ various private enterprises and government agencies have extended their support to the internally displaced persons in Manipur.
The Manipur State Rural Livelihoods Mission (MSRLM) has organized an array of livelihood training programs within the relief camps, offering opportunities for quick cash through short-term activities.
Moreover, the Manipur Handloom and Handicraft Corporation (MHHC) have pledged to purchase all products crafted in the relief camps, ensuring immediate compensation for the inmates. After covering the cost of raw materials, the proceeds from the sale of these products will directly benefit their creators.