Saturday, June 23, 2012

I.G


Income Generation.

To improve the well-being of communities was not a fundamental goal for me. 
It only happened by chance.

I began my work with Sahayak ( you can check their link here ) in 2007. 
Sahayak is the social action wing of the Central Delhi Congregation, DBF. It was a huge opportunity for me to teach these women from Zakheera (a slum) the basics of jewellery making. 
It was not an easy task.

For 2 years I was more than happy to help with their income-generation work but it was barely a tug at my heart then. I probably sound much too harsh to admit this, but it is the truth. 
I was happy to help, but only within my comfort zone, nothing too difficult and only achievable goals.

 It isn't easy trying to alleviate poverty. 
That sounds like a terribly stupid statement to make, but give me a chance.
The reason people talk about it incessantly is because of its parasitic nature and its refusal to let go. 
Putting it simply- the rich want the poor to stay poor, the middle class want the poor to stay poor and the poor want to remain poor.

The cycle of poverty challenges each and every person whose path crosses it. 
It is a difficult cycle to break and like a cat with nine lives you find a solution only to have another one of its ugly lives spring up on you. The responsibility becomes much too great and the problem compounded.

In the 2 years that I spent with the women at Sahayak, over cups of chai and chole bature, I made a point of connection with them.
I dont know when it happened. 
Maybe it was that cup of chai or the hot weather that affected us both.
It could have been the issues we faced as women, 
or maybe it was being able to share a joke that we all laughed at.
But it happened sometime when the walls that divide, where you cannot see the humanity of the other, were broken down.
I think my heart began to beat to a different rhythm then.

It is a continual struggle to look right at the face of poverty and to see the humanity in it. To be unable to see the living, breathing person behind that face.
How do we move from it being a subject of your mind to a subject of your heart?
How do we change a heart that is unmoved by poverty even when we see its blatant face day in and day out?
How do you bring about the change you want to see in your life?

For me it was this very opportunity to sit and work beside the women, to eat with them, to chat, laugh with. And to see them as people. Had someone told me that this would begin the chain, I would have been skeptical.
It really does begin only when we see them as human beings.



Friday, June 22, 2012

macrame

I remember those friendship bands that we used to make while growing up. 
Keeping the noose around the big toe, I struggled to make knots in different colours and designs- 
One after the other, keeping a count of the knots and the twists and turns of the strings.

Those days are not fully gone though. 
Macrame has been making a reentry with high-end fashion. It's amazing how something quite ordinary and a fun activity for school girls is a big rage. 
It also brings to mind something Solomon said...

"What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again
there is nothing new under the sun"  Ecclesiastes 1:9

I gladly welcome macrame.
No longer only knots, I'm happy to incorporate nuts, bolts and chains.