We have a big announcement…. Sewing New Futures is now a part of…
The Shanti Project.
You may be asking, “What does that mean?”
This story starts
ten a few years ago when I started college in West Palm Beach University. There in Baxter hall, 4th floor a couple doors down from me resided an artist named Amie. She drew these marvelous murals on her dorm walls and had style that I longed for.
Also, on a deeper level was on of the kindest, most real person, you could ever meet. We were friends who went through many experiences together but like most college friends drifted apart through the years after college as life had us going in different directions. Fast forward to last year. We both found ourselves in India, through different circumstances, our lives had taken us there. Amie founded, The Shanti Project after traveling in Jaisalmer and meeting the Bopha community. Our mission aligned as we both to promote the economic and social well-being of marginalized women and children.
We decided that why do things separately when we can do them together? Especially, when we already had the history and trust. Thus, how Sewing New Futures became part of The Shanti Project.
Amie will be working on activities in Jaisalmer I will continue working in Dharampura.
For now, this blog will stay live but updates will go through The Shanti Project’s website, same with our Facebook. Please like make sure to like them on FaceBook.
Sorry friends for the long break in blog posts. The past few months have brought lots of changes. We just moved centres (again). The next few weeks we will be busy setting up our sewing machines. We are also looking to hire a new sewing teacher. Then a IGP training class will begin. Our new centre is very nice. The sewing machines are on the second floor, next to the classroom where the non-formal education classes are being taught. There is a lovely open space, roof top terrace that can be used for many things. Dance, knowing our girls!
Pictures and more regular updates soon to follow.
Please watch this The Girl Effect video it explains the girls situation in India a bit further. With education, heath programs and income generation programs we hope to help break this cycle by empowering the girls.
We spent the last five days in Dilli Haat, an open air food and craft bazaar located in Delhi. Here is one of the articles about it, “With an aim to spread more awareness about the issues, women and girls who have survived prostitution along with victims are participating in ‘Traffic Jam: Red Light Blues’, a five-day festival which began on November 1. The stall is showcasing exquisite handicrafts, artwork, jewellery, crafts, tribal foods and other products made by them.”
Each day two girls came from Dhrampura (along with some staff) and help set up the stall, sell items, do nail art and do beautiful menhdi. They earned money from what they made and sold and had so much fun at the fair.
Yesterday, I got into a discussion about if women truly have a choice to be in prostitution. There was an article recently in Guardian which was similar. That we should instead of “rescuing sex workers” empower them with dignity in their profession. While I am all for a women’s right to choose my experiences have taught me that you truly never know the story behind why they are choosing this as a profession. Curious of others thoughts along this? I think it’s never a first choice for a woman even if they say they want to be doing it. There is too much violence, stigma and usually they are just trying to make the best out of a bad situation. With the community we work with I have definitely found this to be the case. The women talk about how they are in control but there is a lot of domestic abuse. I have heard them say they want better for their daughters, yet they marry them and continue this. Because, they are making the best of their situation.
I think to affect any change in a community the people have to demand it themselves. You can’t force it upon them. In our case, this project came about because of a group of bold girls who were taking sewing classes in the Apne Aap centre asked for it. They had sold 10 kurtas locally and had asked questions about selling more but it was hard to accomplish in the local markets. After conversations and meetings with the girls, I formalized an IGP program for them to make and sell kurtas internationally. They still make fun of the word, “IGP” because they have never heard of that before but it exactly what they wanted. They wanted a choice for their futures and money for their families. They love sewing. They were the ones that made the decisions for what hours they wanted to work, what they wanted to make and who would be in the first class. They will be going to the markets with me and helping chose fabrics, this is their program. Many women and girls came in the beginning but when family or society begin to put pressure on them or in the case of with the girl who will be married in a few weeks, they have left. And, we have to let them go because we have to support them, help make them stronger, more confident but we can’t push too hard. It’s a fine balance right now and we have to work with the girls and families that really want this change for themselves. Empower those first and hopefully that will cause change. It will be a slow process but it will happen if they want it.
At the start of this year my goal was to have 10 women and girls earning money outside of prostitution and that is going to happen.
We have a building! In fact everything has fallen into place right on time.
Which is exactly how India works I being an American no matter how many years I have lived here stress out and all the Indians I work with, say “Kristin why are you so tense it will work out.” I think they are crazy. And then it does. Amazing. Love this crazy country.
This is actually happening… also we are now on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SewingNewFutures please like and share with your friends!