Stand by Me is a group that aims to provide holistic support for its members so that they may heal, find financial independence and self-reliance. They enable skill training and market linkages for the products made by their survivors, focusing on apparel and bags.
They are featured in our April Synergy Dharma Mela, as a part of the Women's Synergy collective.
Dharma Team: Tell us your name and what products you make.
Stand by Me: I am Deena [with] by me. A group of people came together in October 2022. We are a collective of survivors of gender-based violence and people who like to support them in their journey of healing, self-reliance, and financial independence. Most products are apparel, night dresses and frocks, salwar suit, children’s clothing, and bags.
Dharma Team: What inspired you to start this initiative?
Stand by Me: In a patriarchal society like ours, most survivors of gender-based violence are stigmatised instead of being supported and protected. They are blamed, shamed, and ostracised by the community and need institutional support. This group is formed to provide emotional support on the one hand and become financially independent on the other; we are doing this by providing skill training and helping them find markets for handmade products and finally move on in their lives with empathy and meaning.
Dharma Team: Have you incorporated any uniqueness or methodology into this initiative?
Stand by Me: The survivors in our group are skilled in tailoring them into making salwar suits, nightdresses, children’s clothing and bags etc. They also do hand embroidery, but we may move on to other products related to tailoring and stitching.
Dharma Team: What are the challenges that you encounter on daily bases?
Stand by Me: Since we are in the outskirts, we don’t have easy access to markets. Even sourcing materials has become difficult, but in addition to that, we have another challenge. The survivors involved in making these products are often drifted and suppressed by their community members trying to protect the perpetrators. This is when we come in to help them out.
Dharma Team: What kind of an impact do you see your work creating for the community?
Stand by Me: We are looking at bifold impact. One is supporting the survivors of gender-based violence to stand on their feet, become economically independent and face the work with dignity and pride. Secondly, we are helping them change society's narrative and outlook towards the survivors by doing so. Do not look at them with sympathy. We want society to see them as courageous warriors who have fought a difficult battle to reach where they are, and we want society to respect their journey from victims to survivors. This is one impact that we wish to achieve.
Dharma Team: what are your plans for long-term sustainability and goals?
Stand by Me: Right now, it is on a small scale, primarily through word of mouth. We want to increase our presence through social media and be a part of a platform like yours and reach a wider audience.
Dharma Team: What would be that one message you would like to pass on to the world?
Stand by Me: Let us build a caring and just society. Let us give a voice to the marginalised by supporting them, and let us help each other grow.