Despite her small stature, Archana is a big presence at Anchal's headquarters in India. Like many of Anchal's artisans, Archana comes from a difficult background, but was determined to create a better life for herself and her son.
It was wonderful meeting the new women in Jaipur the previous week, but there was something magical about seeing the familiar faces of our artisans in Ajmer. I was anxiously waiting the moment when I could lock eyes with the women I had been fighting for the last two years, the same women who inspire me and the same women who you have supported through your purchases and donations.
We are in the midst of our design workshops in Ajmer. It has been a busy 3 days and we can't wait to share more. I will be posting a full report tomorrow, but in the meantime here are some pictures with familiar faces. It is wonderful to be back!
Day 5 of the workshop in Ajmer began 2 hours late. We planned to begin the workshop at ten; however, after a visit at the office and a quick stop at a few shops, we arrived around noon. Our lack of punctuality did not seem to be an issue, giving me the feeling that India’s sense of time is extremely different than my own.
Voted the Greatest Indian Prime Minister by India Today in 2001, 17 years after her assassination, Indira Gandhi is remembered as a powerful and capable leader, who brought her country to the world’s stage and developed India into a regional superpower.
There are 27 million slaves in the world today: That's more than double the number of people taken from Africa during the entire transatlantic slave trade. These are the faces of the modern day slavery, captured by Lisa Kristine.
Last week on October 9th, when Malala Yousafzai was returning home from school on her school bus in Pakistan, masked gunman boarded the bus, shouted for her to reveal herself, and proceeded to shoot her in the head and neck.
Half the Sky is a sobering account of the realities that many women in the world face. The filming is gorgeous, the stories moving and the message harrowing yet inspiring. One of the quotes that struck me came from Nicholas Kristof, the brains behind the operation of Half the Sky. He said, “Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”
The Hindi word “Mehndi” is used to describe the henna plant, the act of henna painting, and the designs used in the paintings. Used for centuries for beautification and conditioning, henna is used as in celebratory rituals from North Africa, the Middle East, as well as in India.
There have been two ways that I feel I have communicated and connected with Anchal’s artisans. Neither way has been by using verbal language. I talked about the first way in my last post: play and laughter. When we goofed around, I began to understand more about each of their personalities, what moved them, and how close they were to each other. It also helped build rapport and trust between us. The second way of effective communication has been through the eyes.
After finishing up workshopping with the women in Ajmer, the tailor Dumgar-Das and I headed back to the children’s village in Udayan with the prototypes the artisans had developed: panels for small and large pouches, circle and straight scarves.
In the morning, we left from Udayan to Ajmer and made it to the new HIV prevention center of Vatsalya, smack in the alley way of a main street in the city. Out in the main room, posters of cartoon condoms and HIV testing scenarios covered the walls. There was a little counselor room attached to it.
After a twenty hour journey, I finally arrived to Udayan, 40 km outside of Jaipur, at 5:00am and slept for a few hours before meeting Jaimala, director of Anoothi/Vatsalya, Anchal’s partner in Ajmer. She greeted me with a big smile and warm hug.