Shaik Abdul Mujeeb is a common man in India who chose an uncommon profession of collecting weeds from water bodies and making handicrafts out of them. Ultimately, it is all about providing occupation to poor women in the Southern region of India.
On his way to college in Andhra Pradesh, Abdul noticed the enormous growth of water hyacinth in lakes. Later, he observed many ponds and lakes too were filled with these hyacinth weeds.
Abdul is very much aware of the damage caused by these weeds. Lakhs of rupees are spent every year by the government to clear these weeds, as these weeds are known to block the exit points of the water bodies. In a span of 45 days, they decay and contaminate the water making aquatic life a bit difficult to survive.
Shaik Abdul Mujeeb’s journey started by collecting these plants, cut their stems, drying them in the sun and making hats out of them. During this process, he learned that a similar practice was going on in Assam too. Seeking help from the Manager of NEDFi, he visited some places in Assam and learned the art of making various handicrafts.
In October 2014, he started a social enterprise and named it Allika that provides sustainable lifestyles to poor women who beautifully handcraft various products from water hyacinths.
Allika was started initially with six women, and now is supporting 70 women. It trains them to create handicrafts from water hyacinths. A wide range of products can be created like handbags, caps, hats, baskets, home decors, dining mats and much more. These products have a shelf life of about 10 years.
‘Allika’ also provides an opportunity to generate income for 30 men who are employed to collect weeds from various locations of Andhra Pradesh. These people especially women raised their standard of living and also provide education to their children.
“We make sales through our Facebook page and some exhibitions in our city. We still need to meet the demand and we are trying to expand and make new products,” says Abdul.
Abdul shared his future plans saying that he wants to put the entire plant of water hyacinth to use. It’s roots and leaves to be used for organic manure. And also make sanitary pads from the fiber of the water hyacinth.