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Sunday , 18 August 2019
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Project Thiramai by PepsiCo & SMILE Foundation

Chennai, India – When floods devastated Chennai in December 2015, it had literally shut down the source of income for many households. The effect was felt throughout Chennai as it did not spare even a single area. A lot of individuals and companies involved themselves towards the upliftment of the affected class.

SMILE Foundation was one of the organizations that took the initiative to bring back lost hope among the families. Though the organization is working across various geographical areas, this time they established training centres in Mammandur, Salavakkam, AP Chatiram and Nelvoy Road. 235 chosen women candidates from across 12 villages were identified and given stitching training under Project Thiramai.

As a part of the project, an event was organized on 10th May 2017 where these 235 women were given certificates and sewing machines to self-sustain and support themselves. The team NewsPatrolling reached the venue at 4:30 PM and noticed that a few more people representing various press companies were also present.

We had traveled a distance of close to 80 km to reach the venue and upon seeing the crowd gathered there, our fatigue had vanished in an instant.

A separate set up was arranged for press/bloggers that were served evening snacks with cool drinks. I got myself a Pepsi Revive which is a hydrotonic drink that helped me recharge from dehydration.

The event was attended by dignitaries from the State Government. The members who were present at the event were:

Mr. M C Sampath – Minister for Industries, Govt of Tamilnadu

Mr. P Thangamani – Minster for Electricity, Excise, and Prohibition, Govt of Tamilnadu

Mr. Sanjeev Dham – COO, SMILE Foundation

Ms. Poonam Kaul – Vice President-CSR, PepsiCo India

The event began as soon as the dignitaries arrived around 6 PM and the Ministers said during their speech that it is the initiative which has made them drive to the venue despite having to travel for 2 hours braving the distance and the traffic.

Speaking about the initiatives, Mr. Sanjeev Dham-COO, SMILE foundation thanked PepsiCo for their support in backing the initiative which saw how the women whose families were affected by floods and other natural disasters willingly came up to take part in the drive thereby enhancing their capabilities to stand up on their own feet. He further added that the initiative was unique and saw the participation of physically challenged women too. Had there not been the support of PepsiCo, this project wouldn’t have got the success it has attained today, he opined.

Through Project Thiramai, training has been given to women across the four training centres and on successful completion, certificates and sewing machines were given to the candidates. This has given them the confidence to be financially able, without having to depend on anyone else and since the area houses major garment factories, the training would enable these women to make their own livelihood by supplying or working in the garment factories.

Sanjeev Dham was emotional during his speech which was clearly evident and this reflected not only on his voice and tone but also on the action that he has put forth enabling women who were in the dark all these days to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Followed the speech of Sanjeev Dham, Poonam Kaul, Vice President – CSR, PepsiCo India noted that the company feels proud in supporting such an initiative which has seen the rise of women from economically weaker section. The company wanted to give its best as it had been practicing the best CSR initiatives across the globe. In lieu of this, PepsiCo has joined with SMILE foundation to support these women across Kancheepuram district from various villages and by making women learn to stitch enabling them to join the garment factory companies. The foundation has been doing three initiatives namely Smile-on-Wheels healthcare vans, School Cleanliness and Project Thiramai.

An initiative like this needs to be appreciated and encouraged which is one of the main reasons why we traveled so far to cover the event because it is not only creating self-employment opportunities but is also serving as a championing cause of the upliftment of rural women.

The project is immensely successful and when it continues in the coming years, it would see a massive transformation in the lifestyle of these women. All it needs is the constant support and encouragement from all walks of life which should go beyond boundaries and cultures with selfless attitude aiming mainly at proving the help to the needy.

The Project Thiramai is a clear example of how money could be spent in a useful way without having to depend on others (for any sort of help). I wish PepsiCo comes up with such initiatives more often not only in Tamilnadu but also across India in various sectors.

With 5 manufacturing plants across the State, PepsiCo supports 15,000 families and for the better yield of food grains, the company has already joined hands with more than 400 farmers. By doing this, the company has helped them save more than 30% of water and the highlight to this is the savings of 1.5 billion liters of water that has been saved in the year 2015.

One of the notable CSR initiatives by the PepsiCo apart from Project Thiramai is its involvement in the Chennai floods where it deployed its sales and production unit to take part in the rescue operations. The company supplied more than 1.4 liters of Aquafina purified water during this time since most of the areas were without power for more than 2 weeks. PepsiCo even supplied 38,000 kilos of Quaker oats for the nourishment of affected people during the devastation.

Ministers M C Sampath and P Thangamani spoke about the initiatives wherein they lauded the company and the foundation for doing great work. They said they look forward to their contribution and continued support enriching the lives of many families.

Women from various walks of life took part in the event and couple of them were honored on the stage who were allowed to speak. When they spoke about their inspiring stories, the venue erupted with loud applause. Then the trainees who made this initiative possible were also invited to the stage and were honored.

On the other hand, these were captured with great enthusiasm by the press and some of them even went LIVE on their Facebook and Twitter handles which saw the event being witnessed even by people from other parts of the world that could not make it.

The event concluded with the distribution of sewing machines to all the 235 women who had completed their training.

We left the venue and reached home late at night with a lot of good memories especially that of women who came up in their life with the support of PepsiCo and SMILE Foundation. I am sure many more similar stories will make their way to being scripted in the days to come…

A team of personally attended the event and the post is in collaboration with PepsiCo India.

Disclosure: The post is in collaboration with PepsiCo India”.

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