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Dining For Women Sponsors Natural Dye Project in India

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Two years ago, Dining for Women generously granted a $60,000 Sustaining Grant for a project called Designing Colorful Change. Designing Colorful Change is introducing new proficiencies and careers in natural dyeing to 35 new women in Ajmer, India over the course of 3 years. This is allowing Anchal to integrate more women into our program while re-establishing lost traditions of natural dyeing techniques in the region. The natural colors derived from native Indian plants will enhance Anchal’s textile repertoire for an increasingly expanding market. And in case you are wondering, this dyeing will be completely separate from dyeScape. Each country and community will have unique dyes and products that highlight their individual cultures.

The initial training began last year, but a few months ago we sent 15 women for training in a city called Bagru, famous for block printing and dyeing. The training taught dyeing techniques of several traditional natural dyes and included hands-on demonstrations. Our Project Director, Saloni Gupta, share this story about the artisans’ experience.

In the initial stage, it was difficult for us to convince artisans for attending this training, as many of their family members were not ready to send them out of town for this training and for one stay overnight. But, our team talked to artisans and explained to them how special this opportunity was for the training. This training not only helps you in learning of one concept, Natural Dyeing but, it will also help you in your overall development. So, with the efforts of our team, the artisans were finally ready to go for attending this training.

It was really joyful for us to see them attend this training; many of them have not gone to school even once in their whole life. For all of them, it was altogether a different experience and they loved it completely. They enjoyed the journey of the bus, staying up late till night, talking to their friends having a discussion about Natural dyeing and of course their personal lives! They even said: “We would have never got any such a chance in our whole life if we would not have attended this training.” Another artisan said, "Usually, we live our lives for children, parents, parents in laws, husband but, while this training we lived our life once on our own and for ourselves.” So, in a way you can say the training was only one part of their journey but, they completely loved the whole experience.

In the last day, you could clearly see the sparkle in their eyes, when certificates were distributed. For most of them, it was THE MOMENT of their life, as they are never called at any platform or are being respected in such manner. It was like a lifetime achievement for them.

In this whole training, I clearly saw the curiosity Shama held in her, she was the only artisan with diary and pen in her hand who wanted to keep a record of the things which they were teaching. She was not that shy in this training, she was the bold Shama who without any hesitation was ready to ask questions from her side, from the trainer. I saw her confidence was raised to another level while this training. Before this training, when we use to give any task to her we can see the fear in her eyes, fear of making mistakes but, after this training, when I gave her some new tasks which were new to her, she happily accepted to do them and said smilingly “Whatever you will ask me to do, I will LEARN and do because, you trusted me and now I am able to do so many new things such as stitching, writing etc. I never imagined that I have potential to do so much, other than only doing household chores. I will do more new tasks so I can learn more”

We can’t wait to continue to implement this project over the next year and a half. Stay tuned for more updates and new products in the works.

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