|9:00 TO 5:00||DESIGN WORKSHOP|
|9:30 TO 10:30||MEETING WITH KK|
|9:30 TO 1:00||PRAJAKTA TO TAKE SUMMER TO PUSHPANJALI COLLECTIVES|
|4:00 TO 5:00||HASINAJI TO TAKE SUMMER FOR VISIT TO NIRMAAN AND SAHARA COLLECTIVES|
|11:00 TO 1:00||METING WITH FATIMA AND PRERNA|
|1:00 TO 2:00||LUNCH WITH FATIMA, PRERNA AND NOOREEN|
|3:00 TO 5:00||BOARD MEETING|
|8:00 TO 10:00||SHAILY AND NOOREEN TAKE SUMMER FOR DANDIA CELEBRATION TO MUMBAI CENTRAL (ASHAINA COMMUNITY)|
The design workshop runs every day and it is our routine to meet at 8.30 am to review what has been done the previous day, especially if we have had other meetings and have not been able to interact with the women to focus only on the designing work.
Today we have some visitors. Summer and Katrina are sisters who work at the Asian Women’s University in Chittagong, Bangladesh. I met Summer some years ago when she was attending a Fair Trade event at Kansas State University and was working with Equal Exchange, a fair trade organization. She told me then how much she wanted to to visit SHARE and MarketPlace someday.
One thing that is great here is that in spite of all the rushing and hectic scheduling associated with Lalita and I being here to attend design workshops, meet with artisans, review social programs, etc. etc. – everyone is more than willing to welcome new friends to the chaos! Summer and Katrina were taken to visit 3 collectives to meet the artisans and learn about their work. They will be sharing their experiences later on this blog.
In the evening they went with Nooreen, the Assistant Director of SHARE, to Dandiya Celebration, one of a large number of festivals which are celebrated in the Fall. Dandiya is a folk dance performed with decorated sticks during the 9-day Hindu holiday of Navratri. This festival leads right into the next festival, Dussehra, which leads to Diwali.
Navratri celebrates 9 forms of the Mother Goddess, all her different forms of shakti, or female power! At the end of Navatri, Dassehra continues to celebrate the victory of good over evil with the story of how the god Rama defeated the demon Ravana, the story of the Indian epic the Ramayana. This time of year is full of fun and feasts and celebrations. For Lalita and me, however, our main focus that day was the SHARE board meeting. Like non-profits in the United States, SHARE is governed by volunteer Directors. As alluded to earlier, SHARE is currently in a financial crisis because of funding having dried up and sales of MarketPlace not being as robust as before. This is why we are so determined to raise some funds to continue SHARE’s programs.
SHARE is the backbone of MarketPlace and, as I like to call it, the ‘keeper of our mission’. When running a business, it is so easy just to look to see if the bottom line is red or black. Quality & timely delivery could become the only focus of MarketPlace Mumbai and the business leaders of the groups. But, as important as these commercial aspects are, SHARE keeps everyone on track by reminding us of the bigger picture. They evaluate whether there is participation by all the women in the various programs, they listen to what the women are truly saying, and they then design programs along with the women to try to solve the problems and improve their quality of life. Their job is not easy and sometimes motivating some of the women to attend meetings is a challenge. And who can blame the women when they are so busy taking care of their families?
At the meeting was Fatima Merchant, who was the Executive Director of SHARE for 13 years; Prerna Sharma who was the Social Program Manager at SHARE and now teaches at SNDT, a women’s college in Mumbai; Nooreen Dossa, Assistant Director; Lalita; and myself. We had some great discussions – practical and honest, real soul searching. SHARE and MarketPlace have gone through so many changes and evolved so much over the 23 years and it was time to evaluate and re-evaluate. Many of the natural leaders who have blossomed have left for other employment and we were discussing how to revitalize the groups again. For me the best part of the morning discussions, as well at the board meeting, was the courage of everyone to ask the hard questions.