By Sanjana Aggarwal:
Being a regular teenager in India, I was blissfully unaware of the benefits of being involved in community service. I considered it to be a tiring and unrewarding field. It was something that I could never take part in. But, it didn’t stop me from admiring those who made an impact on people’s lives, without expecting anything in return. I thought like this till such time I volunteered for a social enterprise.
The chance to work at ‘I Village‘ was exciting, not because of the social welfare they were involved in, but because I got a chance to do what I love. Design beautiful products that bring out the charm of traditional Indian designs. ‘I Village’ is an enterprise that helps rural women artisans nurture their talents and flair for embroidery and traditional manufacturing processes. Since I was involved in designing the products, I had to visit the village where the products were crafted, to get a better understanding of the process.
And what I experienced during that visit, is something that I feel every Indian teenager needs to.
Being an endeavour to empower rural women, I thought ‘I Village’ would have a workforce of emotionally fragile, helpless women, who came to work from the oppressive conditions in their homes. What I had imagined was far from the reality.
In the ‘I Village’ Vocation Centre, I saw a group of women who were confident, self-assured, and happy! They knew their strengths, abilities and were proud of them. They loved their families and were free-thinking, open-minded individuals. However, my shock was justified. As extraordinary as the women were, they weren’t happy before the advent of ‘I Village’ in their lives. Being able to work and earn on their own, despite the barriers of gender stereotypes, instilled in them a sense of pride and confidence. It gave them the spirit to be able to live life on their terms while supporting their families financially. It gave mothers a stable source of income to send their children to school and young girls the financial independence to fund their own education. Among I Village’s beneficiaries include a young law student who gained the courage to stand up for her right to higher education, a single mother who doesn’t have to lean on anyone to take care of her family and an aspiring beautician who is saving funds for opening her own beauty parlour.
The fact that I worked towards helping them achieve their dreams, changed my perspective of work and life. I became more responsible and much more sensitive towards the needs of others. I came to realise the importance of freedom, and of doing the work you love. I also realised how a simple step can go a long way in transforming the face of an entire village. It made me realise how important it is to empower rural Indian women. They just need a little support to unleash the strong-headed, and independent woman inside them.
And every one of us is capable of providing that support.
P.S- I request everyone to show their support to ‘I Village Social Solutions’, and other such organisations. We keep publishing articles talking about the need to empower women, let’s not think twice before publishing one about those who actually work towards it.