Disabled in accident, Saligao woman now earns from crochet

Disabled in accident, Saligao woman now earns from crochet

A graduate in Business Management, Connie Godinho worked in the Gulf until the day she flew down to Goa to celebrate her birthday at her hometown Saligao, only to receive an unexpected gift from life – a permanent disability. The Goan spoke to this brave woman who after the accident trained herself to be a crochet artist and spread smiles on many faces... 

Working in the Gulf for eight years, Connie Godinho, a graduate in Business Management, was in Saligao to celebrate her birthday in 2011 and visiting the Church that day, when a bus hit her accidently injuring her spine and disabling her lower limbs. But 32-year-old Connie was not de-motivated with this unexpected birthday gift and she took it sportingly, calling it the wish of God. Her upper body was perfectly well. But she could not stand on her own feet or move around. It took her some years before she could pick herself up and restart her life... which she did. Today, at 44, Connie is financially independent running her own small business from home and earning reasonably well.

“Of course, what I earn now does not match anywhere with my salary in the Gulf, but nevertheless, I am happy that I can earn my living and am not dependent financially on my family,” says Connie, whose husband Mario Godinho and daughter Susanne are by her side, supporting her in whatever she does.

Remembering how life restarted, Connie says, “It was, probably, four years after the accident that I started learning the basics of crochet – not because I wanted to be a professional artist in it but just to learn something beautiful. It gave me joy to create a piece of art with just threads and needles using my hands.”

Initially she started small, with coasters and doilies, before she could read the diagram and design patterns for more complicated and bigger items. “I did it for fun, for keeping myself engaged. I never thought of earning out of this art. But then destiny had planned something different. Goan artist Clarice Vaz, hailing from my own village, met me. We met for the first time. I had made some small earrings with crochet thread and put them on Facebook. Clarice saw them and asked if she can come and see me. I agreed, and she came. She saw me on the wheelchair, and asked if I can participate in the ‘Made in Saligao’ market,” recalls Connie.

Clarice had a vision for creating entrepreneurship for the people of Saligao by offering a platform where they can sell their homemade products and earn something sitting in the comforts of their home. This was before Covid. This encouragement brought Connie out of her shell. She was motivated to make more designs, and items to display in the market.

“My first crochet stuff was well received. I began to experiment more, and started making stuffed toys, Christmas decor... I learnt watching videos on YouTube. The market was in November, closer to the festive season. All my products were sold. It was a fruitful year. Many came to know about me, my talent and my disability. People got connected. There were write-ups about me. I got orders too. It filled my life with pleasantness. I was appreciated, wanted,” Connie shares.

Orders poured in from India and abroad. Goans living in the UK, US, Canada, Dubai and some without knowing me began placing orders. Facebook and Instagram helped reach her to global clientele. There were demands of baby sets, sweaters, tops, dresses, toys, bags, table mats, home decor... Connie learnt to make them. Her daughter helps to take pictures to upload on social sites. “My hands are too full now...” smiles a happy Connie.

“I don’t compromise on quality of raw material. All clothes I make are with cotton thread. The baby accessories are also of soft acrylic material which is softer on the skin. I import it from Turkey. It takes time and efforts to work on the patterns and to create something beautiful that gives you pleasure just beholding it. A pair of booties may take an hour, a crop top, a week. I sit upright, cross legged on the bed which has become my workshop. I spend hours on it, depending upon the urgency of the order. Sometimes I sit up late night too,” quips Connie.

A year ago, Connie’s husband also left his job in the Gulf to be at her side. Daughter Susanne who is doing final year BCA at Mapusa’s St Xavier College, helps the mother too. Connie can help in the kitchen work doing the basic cutting, chopping. Her husband does the cooking. Though he comes from a mechanical profession, he was good at doing barbeques in the gulf. For the past one year he has been taking orders for barbeques in the Festakar Marius Fernandes’ fests and has honed the skills. He also helps in making star-frames of bamboo, polishing and treating wood to make arrows for Connie’s crochet products and sources her raw material. The Godinhos has weaved a small world for themselves where they live happily, helping and supporting each other through thick and thin.

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