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"I have no other means to earn income except for selling my handcrafted Kouna (wild water reed) mats. I have made 6 mats so far but haven’t sold a single one. I’ve been told that government is setting up a stall soon. I am waiting for that to sell my mats so that I can earn some money for my family.  I have invested whatever money I’d received as help from generous people to buy raw materials for making these mats", said Koijam Babisana, a displaced victim of Manipur violence.

A young married woman, Koijam Babisana, is one of the many internally displaced people owing to Manipur violence which erupted on May 3. Her house in Ikou was burnt down at the peak of the violence. Along with her family, Babisana is currently taking refuge at the Sajiwa Temporary Shelter home in Imphal East District, set up by Manipur government.

When asked if she could teach others, if government organised training programs for making Kouna mats at relief camps, Babisana replied, yes, I can but I’m not an expert in making other Kouna items like bags as there are many designs. Even I want to learn making other products and designs. It is good to learn new things and enhance one’s skills, she added.

Like Babisana, there are many other talented artisans and craftspersons who are currently taking shelter at relief camps across the state. Government should explore these hidden talents, make sure that their talents don’t go wasted and also take measures to further enhance their skills.

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