India’s Karuna Quilt Movement – now a global campaign, started with a simple desire to take back a pocketful of memories from Florida, United States of America. Once Taruna Gandotra Sethi discovered the world of quilting as a hobby, learning the art of creating beauty with a range of fabric blocks and designs, a new journey began for her. Taruna didn’t imagine it would lead her to creating an ecosystem of warmth, empowerment, sustainability and gratitude, called India’s Karuna Quilt Movement.
Led by her organization Simply Beautiful Always, she felt this was more than just a movement. It was a heartfelt desire to unite every Indian with a common purpose, to inspire everyone to find a silver lining in the clouds and to give them a chance to express their acknowledgement towards the unsung heroes of our society.
“Unsung heroes have always been amongst us. The security guards, the drivers, the ward boys in a hospital, the road sweeper, the sanitation worker… they have been the backbone of our society for so long,” says Taruna. “Without them our senior resources would not have been able to accomplish what they have. They are the invisible hands who keep our society running and I felt it was high time that we expressed our gratitude, Karuna, towards them.”
As a social entrepreneur, Taruna has always believed in empowering everyone around her. Taruna first started her initiative of quilting with her household domestic staff and there has been no looking back since then for her inclusive team of 22 at Simply Beautiful Always which employs people from underprivileged backgrounds as well as differently abled people. “The pandemic made us realize how important it is to count our blessings. Every day is a new beginning of hope and positivity. And it was this feeling of hope, happiness and empathy that I wanted to share with the invisible hands as well.”
With the motto of ‘Happily busy hands and a busy mind always makes joy and bliss easy to find’, Taruna and her team always dedicated their time to making quilts with a never say never attitude. Their request to collect various fabric blocks, styles of fabrics and contributions received an overwhelming response. And today, India’s Karuna Quilt Movement is proud to have accomplished their target of making 1000 quilts by August 15th, 2021- India’s 75th Independence Day. “It is after all a movement made in India, made for India and made by Indians. What better way to salute our unsung heroes than on the day India was reborn.”
A vision of self-reliance and economic empowerment has been the guiding force for Simply Beautiful Always. “To make our dream of India shining come true, I sincerely believe we need to focus on those who actually make India.”
The initiative of making these quilts has in fact been successful because of her own personal heroes. Taruna was always against the digital divide amongst Indians and made it her mission to acquaint her own domestic help and staff to the world of gadgets. Recounting an experience, Taruna says, “during the COVID induced lockdown I had to keep two of my staff who were stranded in our studio in a positive state of mind. At every stage and every day, I encouraged them to get over their fear of the devices, get acquainted with the necessary machines and do whatever they wanted with our surplus fabrics.” This proved to be beneficial in a multitude of ways for they not only learnt about making fibre collages, the art of quilt making and using computers; but also became instrumental in overseeing the smooth running and management of the whole movement.
Steadily generating employment amongst the workers in rural and urban India, up-cycling surplus fabrics generated by the garment and textile industries, and igniting self-esteem in the hearts of the invisible hands, India’s Karuna Quilt Movement is more than just about quilts.
To spread the art and skill of quilting more accessible to people in India, Simply Beautiful Always also started a youtube channel, becoming the only channel to give quilting tutorials in Hindi, hence making it easy to understand by masses in the country even in rural areas.
To contribute your fabric block of gratitude, new fabrics or make a monetary contribution for India’s Karuna Quilt Movement, Visit here.