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Entering Delinquent, Leaving Suave and Empowered - Pearl Academy

Education is the passport to the future since tomorrow belongs to those who prepare today. It has been 25 years since Pearl Academy has been associated with providing the best to the industry, and molding student into industry leaders. It is amazing to see the power education holds to change lives which I personally have witnessed year on year.

In the pursuit of empowering women and helping them stand on their feet, Pearl Academy set up a fashion laboratory in collaboration with Tihar Jail. The project known as Swikriti, was a beautiful step by Tihar and us to promote a positive vibe in the premises and amongst inmates of jail number 6. I believe that it was a brilliant initiative by Pearl to have helped those who need it the most.

Why I say this is due to the fact that once you enter the walls of a jail, you are never seen in the same light as others and perhaps thus, the career options once the inmate steps out diminish further. To combat the issue of joblessness and to fill them with a confident vibe, Pearl Academy took the initiative of extending a unique opportunity for women to learn the basics of garment design & construction in the prison premises itself.

Tihar takes pride in being the correctional facility rather than being termed as a jail. It has proved to be a centre of education, rather than a detention unit. Ordinary prisons are notorious for suppressing and belittling prisoners whereas Tihar does the opposite. It engages, empathizes with, uplifts and ultimately rehabilitates its inmates. I have held women empowerment on priority since a woman is the binding force of the family and is responsible for nurturing her children along with helping her man contest daily life.

When we talk about equality, women have proved to be no less than menfolk. It is unfortunate that the inmates had to walk through the gates of Tihar and wouldn’t be able to lead a normal life immediately after release. Thus, making them self-reliant is what we have tried to achieve via our Fashion Laboratory.

I hold this laboratory very close to my heart. Initially, we were uncertain of what the outcome of such a project would be, but today I can proudly say that I have witnessed an amazing growth and a transformation in the attitudes of the inmates. I am gratified of the fact that we are bringing that much required change to the lives of those who usually lead a life of despair behind the walls of Tihar.

The Government of India’s Skill India mission is lauded by Pearl Academy and thus we aligned our mission of transforming lives through workshops, training modules and campaigns to the Skill India Mission. I personally feel that women should aim at self-actualization, and that is what I feel we have tried to do with the women in Tihar.

Pearl wants the women to have a future and step out of the drudgery and thus this can be termed as our small step to bring a big change in their lives. I personally feel that a sewing needle can mend torn fabric. I intend to provide them this very sewing needle to mend their future. Our fashion lab was equipped with specialized sewing machines, overlock and ironing machines, dress forms pattern tables with cork tops, proper ventilation and lighting for the inmates to work comfortably. This training would not go in vain and each of the students will be awarded a certificate, and thus their employability quotient becomes richer post they finish their term from Tihar. We are creating a sustainable future. We are empowering them. We are saving not just one life, but all those associated with her life.

The training program, spanning a period of three months, prepared the inmates for employment in the fashion and garment construction industry. We know about the vocational issue faced by the inmates post walking free. Thus, Pearl Academy has stepped forward to support their talent. We reached out to our industry and handicraft alliances and have come to an agreement to employ the inmates once they are free. Even our students have assured us that they will hire the graduates of Tihar Fashion Lab, once they get their independent projects off the ground. I am blessed to have a supportive faculty and students for helping the now graduated inmates have a better future.

I could see the inmates beaming with joy at the convocation fashion Show on the evening of September 9th, 2017. The collection at Swikriti was remarkably elegant yet low-key. Sudhir Yadav, the Director-General of Prisons, said the programme had changed the lives of the women inmates in a matter of months. Coming from him, it means much to our Academy.
Forming meaningful social and individual change is at the heart of our teaching mission. Their willingness to learn and succeed was truly inspirational for us the next batch is scheduled to commence soon! We will continue to take up similar initiatives to promote inclusive skill development to build a better India. This project, however, has been a truly inspirational experiment whose results show the world, the power of design and creativity to change lives. Everyone is ‘Made to Create’- no matter where they come from, what language they speak or circumstances they go through. Creativity is universal, healing and unifying. And at Pearl Academy- we don’t just believe it. We know it.

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