Priceless Neema Dolls, by Frederique Lacraz

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Neema

In the village of Ringora, dist. Nainital, a girl named Neema is making artefact using local raw material, the “saan”. Her products are the only local creation that can be found in and around Corbett, making it priceless.

But Neema is not only a brand, it represents a whole history of Kumaoni women who work incredibly hard every day. Their daily life starts early morning, where they go inside the jungle to collect firewood and grass, to cook and heat the houses, to feed the cattle but also to collect this particular grass that is much needed to repair the roofs and that can be sold at a good price.

Ringora woman coming back from grass cutting

Ringora woman coming back from grass cutting

Those women are putting their lives in danger, since every venue inside the jungle can be matched with potential wildlife encounter. Tiger are the best known mammals to attack villagers, but they are not the only ones. A list of many animals including leopard, bear, elephant and snake can turn the whole excursion into a sad day. But they have no choice. The government is given almost no alternative to this wood collection, and for many villagers – not only in Corbett, but everywhere in India – the free wood and grass that forests are providing is the assurance of the next meals.

When they come back from the jungle, women have to prepare food, take care of the children, work in the fields, do the family laundry, go to collect water from the water source, they hardly rest. And the most amazing thing among all those women is that they never complain.

From my European point of view, I find them to be amazingly brave, physically and mentally strong. I love spending time with them since everything is a pretext to have a laugh, they enjoy life as it is and they would give quite a lecture to many people’s behaviour and way of thinking.

Neema bag

Neema bag

Neema doll

Neema doll

Neema’s products, dexterously made, comprise hand bags for a classy touch and also a range of dolls, the “Neema dolls” that are the representation of a Kumaoni women, carrying a load of wood or grass on their heads. This girl is the ambassador of many women, and by making those artefacts, she definitely gives a shout that those women are important in so many ways and people should never forget that they exist and they are ready to stand for their rights.  By purchasing the Neema’s handicrafts, people are directly improving the lives of the girls who are making them, contributing to the girls and women empowerment of forgotten villages, like Ringora.

Neema making dolls in her Ringora house

Neema making dolls in her Ringora house

If you want to buy some Neema artefacts, please contact us at mahseerconservancy@gmail.com



2 Responses to “Priceless Neema Dolls, by Frederique Lacraz”

  1. Beautiful article Frederique!

  2. [...] the threat of tiger attacks for women who roam the buffer areas in search of fuel and fodder. The Women and Tiger Project, under the auspices of the Mahseer Conservancy is encouraging women to achieve economic [...]

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