Supporting Social Action

October 6th

9:00 TO 5:00                DESIGN WORKSHOP
2:30 TO 5:00                ARTISANS DAY
5:00 TO 6:00                MEETING WTH ND

The Artisan Day is always the highlight of my trip.  All the artisans collect together at MarketPlace-Mumbai the space is certainly inadequate, so it is quite crowded.

One group takes responsibility and plans the event, from the program to the refreshments. This time the Social Action leaders organized the event.  The topic they are all dealing with in the Social Action program is Domestic Violence and they themselves wrote and acted a skit.  This topic has been going on for a couple of months now, and the other groups have also done skits to explore and expose the issue.  This time, the focus was on the fact that control and abuse can take  the form of not allowing the wife any social interaction with neighbors, even to the extent where the man does the grocery shopping.  I am always amazed at the acting talent of some of the artisans and their courage in bringing such a sensitive topic into the public dialog.

On the flight to London, I reflected on the work of SHARE.  I think they are the unsung heroes of our development model.  One sees the products and understands the work that goes into it, one hears about the various programs and the very heroic things the women are accomplishing, but behind all of this is SHARE.  They have the challenge of really listening to the artisans, and of discerning, from the various conversations and meetings, the issues that are relevant to a majority of the women.  They have to motivate women to keep going in spite of real hardships.    Sometime they have to bite their tongues when they see a woman abused, because the first reaction is divorce, but they have help her think through the issues so that she can decide what is best for her and her children.  They have to encourage participation because there are many leaders but also some women who are content to let someone else take on the work of organizing, etc.  They have to consider the needs and desires of the  individuals while also looking at the group goals and development, and figure out how to combine the two.  Their role in this unique model is crucial.

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