We were very honored to welcome a group of fabulous women from Dining for Women traveling in India this month. The visit spanned two days and included a trip to Vatsalya’s Children Village and Anchal’s workshops in Jaipur & Ajmer.
The highlight of the visit was clearly with the artisans in Ajmer. The DFW members quickly found themselves sitting on the floor with the artisans in the workrooms sharing smiles & giggles. After spending time observing the artisans’ craft, the group formed an exchange of stories & questions with 5 artisans. The artisans spoke freely about how their individual lives have changed since joining Anchal. Santosh shared, “We were helpless before, and now we make our own decisions.” The room broke into applause.
Tina from Dining for Women shares some of the stories exchanged on her blog. Here is an excerpt:
One of the women’s daughters is now doing post-graduate work and her granddaughters are in private school - which wouldn’t have been possible, if her mother was still in the sex trade business. Its a matter of stigma, not cash. If your mother is a sex worker, your status is lower than low - and your chances of being accepted into a good school are almost nil. One woman shared that she was orphaned at 11 and married shorty afterward to a man 16 years her senior. She’s now the outreach project manager and has a good eye for women in need that want to make a change. Another woman with two young children shares that her husband is an alcoholic and used to bring clients to her (home based prostitution). Jaimala shares that she has had to be very strong to break that pattern of abuse.
The bravery of the artisans was visibly felt by all through tears and words of encouragement.
The DFW women also had the great opportunity to meet the artisans that created the Anchal quilts & scarves they purchased. It was an Anchal first that I wish everyone had the fortune to experience. The artisans stood proudly next to the new owner of their creation. The artisans later shared how happy they felt when they met the women who bought their art. Up until now, quilts and scarves get packaged up for the U.S. never to be seen again.
This experience reminded me why Anchal is so grateful for DFW’s support. When women around the world come together and support each other, it is evident that collective change and empowerment is possible. The didi connection in action!
Thank you Dining for Women for your continued love and support, we are forever thankful!
For more stories, read DFW personal accounts here.