|9:00 TO 5:00||DESIGN WORKSHOP|
|2:00 TO 3:00||MEETING WITH MANOHAR SAWANT|
|3:00 TO 5:00||MEETING WITH ARPAN|
Over the last 23 years, I have been constantly amazed by the women. At a meeting with some of the women, I showed them the blog and told them that we were requesting donations for SHARE. One of the women said, “What are we giving them in return?” I just looked at her in amazement. Here were women who had so many struggles in their lives, but their generosity and hospitality took precedence. Indians have always been hospitable. I remember long ago, not long after we had started and MarketPlace was not providing full time employment for the artisans, we had applied for a loan from Shared Interest, a London based bank that provided loans to Fair Trade organizations. Coin Crawford, a representative from the bank visited SHARE, and a SHARE staffer took him to visit one of the artisans. He talked to the artisan for a while and when he was ready to leave, she had tears in her eyes and said, “it is the end of the month and I do not have much money, I feel bad that I cannot even offer you tea, and I only have a little sugar.” Saying this she put a couple of grains of sugar in his hand. He was so touched and still remembers this incident to this day.
During the rest of the meeting, the artisans discussed options for thanking people who donated. Money, of course was a problem, but distance was also an issue. After much debate, they came up with the idea of a recipe. Palak Paneer is a common North Indian vegetable dish. Paneer is a kind of homemade cheese which is a pain to make. So I substitute it with Tofu!
I urge you to donate, however little or much, to support SHARE in continuing to enable the women to improve their lives.
Today was an interesting day. The design workshop has been continuing all these days. Most of my meetings are at the same location of the workshop, but still the supervisors have to shuttle catch me between meetings for a quick consult and to get some feed-back. It’s challenging to work this way, and I was glad that today I was able to spend the entire morning at the workshop without distractions.
In the afternoon, I had a short meeting with Mr Manohar Sawant, who is associated with the Deepak Foundation, an organization that does a lot of development in very rural villages in Gujarat. They have started a group of artisans who are following the tradition of Pithora, a folk art painting which is traditionally painted on the walls. He had requested my help to advise them on product design and marketing.
After that I met with Arpan, one of the cooperatives we work with. They had a few challenges the last six months, where there was some in-fighting and politics among the members. They learnt some very important lessons the hard way but have emerged strong. Arpan has always been a very interesting group, very articulate and with many very strong and opinionated women. They are a tremendous force in the community. In fact, Sushila, was saying that a neighbor of hers was badly beaten by her husband and she took her to the hospital and then went to the police to report it and have the woman’s husband arrested. The police said that this was a ‘home’ matter and that they could not do anything. She was adamant and said that she would go higher-up if they did not take action, which they then did. It was really courageous of her as she lives next door to them and there are bound to be some repercussions for her.