(Left to Right) Toyi Swuro, Votalu Luruo and employees of ‘Craft Gallery.’ (Morung Photo)
‘Changing the lives of poor children by mending shoes’
Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | August 13
The sight of school children in tattered shoes struck a chord in Toyi Swuro’s heart—one of the reasons why he took up cobbling as a fulltime profession leaving behind his BA degree, diploma in Hotel Management and Master Diploma in Computer Application.
A year since he started mending shoes in his bedroom in Phek, he has brought joy to financially poor and less fortunate children by fulfilling their small wishes of wearing refurbished shoes for free. A continuing noble venture which has been going on for at least 4 months for these children, he says, “we are willing to continue this effort as long as we have the materials to mend their shoes.”
“Actually when I started this work in my bedroom, many people also brought their shoes and sandals for repair, and in a day, I could earn Rs.800-900, which I found to be a good income”, he articulates. Encouraged by the positive response and also because footwear is worn by everyone, he decided to open a shop under the name ‘Fine Cobbler,’ following which, Votalu Luruo came into picture as a partner for the venture.
‘Fine Cobbler’ was then rechristened as ‘Craft Gallery;’ and apart from mending shoes, it deals with all types of Leathers, Rexines and Foam crafts and also manufactures belts, purse, wallets, etc.
Votalu Luruo considers it her good fortune to have encountered Toyi Swuro and his team, whose humility, hard work and dedication have inspired her to partner with the initiative.
“Today, I am so proud that I can repair shoes, bags and sandals as a lady cobbler in Phek Town. Cobbling is not gender-specific, it can be taken up by women also”, she expresses. Votalu Luruo has a Master’s degree in History and further obtained a B.Ed degree. She is a Guide Captain of Bharat Scouts and Guides and Warden of Government Residential Girls Hostel, Phek Town.
Craft Gallery currently has a team of five having resourcefully roped in school dropouts—namely Thupudayi Chizo, Kudengoyi Lohe and Muralho Sapu.
Toyi Swuro wishes that Naga youths would take up any kind of job while putting across that “it is high time that we push aside our ego and shyness, and take up manual labour as well.”
“I believe that no work is small and hope that someday we'll achieve something bigger. As a concerned and public spirited young Naga, I would like to urge the youth not to forget the value of dignity of labour". “There is no harm in taking up manual work/job, you can earn quite handsomely”, he asserts.
Emphasizing that youths need to start now and stop depending on their parents, he also expressed concern that many people are now glued to their mobile phones and social media, sitting in their comfort zones talking about ‘change’. He feels that change needs to start from within and that there are lots of jobs out there if only the unemployed youth are willing to work.
‘Craft Gallery’ has an average earning of at least Rs. 2000 per day and continues to receive customized orders from places like Mokokchung, Wokha, Peren, and Kohima. With hopes to manufacture shoes few years down the line, Toyi Swuro expresses that, “We really want to upgrade our machinery since most of our works are handmade but at this point, we cannot afford it.”
As self-taught cobblers, the team has come a long way and has also imparted training on cobbling to the girls at Government Residential Girls’ Hostel in Phek. Apart from this, they are actively involved in Taekwondo and will be representing Phek District during the Inter District Taekwondo Tournament which will be held on August 29 at IG Stadium, Kohima organized by Nagaland Taekwondo Association. In relation to this, they are also imparting self-defense course to girls under Beti Bachao, to be demonstrated on Independence Day this year.