Jone Pryadarshini Mahila Mandal, better known as JPMM, is a mahila mandal (women's society) in Bethany Leprosy Colony. Formed in about 1994/5 as a solidarity group it has since evolved to include sub groups of self help savings groups, and it also has a production section. Those women in the sub groups that can sew are called on rotation to complete orders making urn and jewellery bags for Canadian funeral homes, cushions and assorted other bags and storage items for export as well as runners and napkins and cushion covers in locally sourced handloom cottons for international customers. They have diversified in 2022/23 and learned how to make coconut fiber kitchen scrubs and secured a good export order. All profits from the sewing work are shared amongst all the members.

Until 2021/22 JPMM supported the retirement period of an elderly master tailor from the colony who worked for them cutting and mentoring new tailors. sadly GopalRao died in 2023 after a long illness. Now they are dependent on just two women with cutting skills.
The boom time of 2018-29 when JPMM making huge quantities of veggie bags for a German customer, suffered a set back with the Covid pandemic. Undaunted, the women made masks for the local administration in Bapatla town and in 2022/23 they have shown a willingness and ability to try new materials and products if it provides work for the members. So now they work with coconut fibers, waste saris and have researched sourcing, deseeding and packing soap nuts for laundry use for international customers.

Most members of JPMM are daughters and daughter-in-laws of people directly affected by leprosy, but it has been agreed that the older people directly affected by leprosy will always be part of the production unit and profits are still shared with all the members.

For statistics and data about JPMM click here

Watch the women making coconut fiber kitchen scrubs in this small video below -


Learn much more about Mahila Mandals from the film below which was produced for IM Swedish Development Partner as part of a series about empowered women from around the world. We are delighted that they chose Amaravathi from JPMM. as one of their subjects for the series.
Sadly Amaravathi died during the pandemic, but her feisty legacy continues on here