Making bamboo pens is the job with which Geetha earns her income. Despite having endured several miseries in her life like the death of her mother in her childhood, the torments of an early marriage, she nourished her spirits through reading. As if in consolation of her inability to write her life story, Geetha has been making the Script-O Bamboo Pen, the signature product of Uravu. Besides providing a stable income for her family, it has become a much treasured, meaningful and decent vocation for Geetha.
Freedom in the work space is the single most important factor that prompted Jameela to stay on with Uravu for the last 20 years. Never afraid to take up responsibilities, she took on her shoulders the challenge of bringing up her daughter and supporting her mother after a broken marriage early in life. As the president of the cluster federation, the association bamboo artisans in the Kalpetta Bamboo Cluster organized by Uravu, she has been leading the artisans for the last five years. “ I have attended several workshops, trained many people, seen places, interacted with several bigwigs, ministers and officials, all because of my job with Uravu,” Jameela says with pride.
Shylaja is the epitome of an artisan who could bridge the gap between tradition and modernity. Born in a family of bamboo weavers at a time when bamboo craft was dying out, Shylaja kept intact her innate talents and her perseverance. And when Uravu provided her with opportunities, she weaved for herself a new life out of bamboo and reed. Shown a new design of a woven lampshade or a basket, she would spend her day and night, thinking and working on the new pattern. And then come up with a product, elegant in style and accurate in dimensions, meeting the demands of the modern consumers. All this, amidst the turmoil of her fragile health, poor economic background and family tragedies. Shylaja is now the master weaver at Uravu and one of the master trainers in bamboo weaving in the country.
‘Elemental’ is the word most suited to describe Lenin, self-taught craftsaman and designer at Uravu. He is arguably the most talented bamboo artisan in the country. The bamboo craft works of Lenin are explorations on the immense possibilities of forms and shapes that can be created out of the strength and flexibility of bamboo. While he relishes in utilizing the natural forms of bamboo to the maximum to make simple but artistic products, he also shows the penchant for creating with bamboo several forms of life dear to his mind – the flora and fauna of watery village life in Kerala.