Thursday, November 22, 2012

Guest Post by Javita


Thank you everyone for your lovely and wonderful comments on my last post! Javita and I are very excited about the Weaving Destination social enterprise.  Today, I hope you will join me in welcoming a very special guest post from Javita!

Thanks Debi for such a wonderful and apt introduction of our association, social enterprise and me. You are certainly a superwoman. My heartfelt thanks to all the readers for their wonderful thoughts, wishes and suggestions. Very encouraging and helpful indeed!

When Debi asked me to introduce myself on her blog, I was excited to tell about myself and meet the wonderful community associated with her through her blog. But, my first thought was what should I write about myself?..where should I begin from?..and what is really my inspiration? I guess two words describe me and my inspiration to do this work - ‘Creating Opportunities!’

 Women who work in the sewing unit at Weaving Destination

Being a female in a patriarchal world of India, my personal journey has been about creating opportunities for myself to grow, to realize my full potential, to travel, to get educated, to find a meaningful employment and career. Something that I had that enabled me create opportunities and find my path of possibilities and opportunities was a comfortable life style in the Capital of India, Delhi and blessings from the Divine. However, many women in India struggle to find their feet in a patriarchal and a gender discriminatory social system coupled with other vulnerability causing situations such as poverty, violence and abuse, and other adverse environmental conditions such as conflicts, natural calamities and lack of appropriate support systems.     


A glimpse inside the Weaving Destination centre Anthaigwlao Village, BTC, Assam

My personal journey of creating opportunities for myself and standing up for my rights transgressed to public and political spheres with my first job after my Graduation in Psychology Honours and Masters in Social Work. I worked for eight years with a Violence Intervention Centre called Sakshi in New Delhi and worked extensively in protecting and promoting the rights of women and children and providing counselling support to women and child survivors of different forms of abuse (physical, domestic and sexual abuse). Further, I went on to work as a consultant with the United Nations (UN) agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Children's Fund and UN Women and other national and international organizations such as the Airport Authority of India, American Centre for International Labour Solidarity and the South Asia Gender Equity Programme on issues of human trafficking, sexual harassment at the work place, child protection and participation and child and adolescent development. I had the privilege of traveling extensively for education and work, within India and internationally, which expanded my world view, horizon and networks.   

Sorry for the blurry picture...this is me (Javita) with two of the women weavers
 
In 2004, my husband and I decided to set up NEDAN Foundation - a charity organization (commonly known as non-government organization/ NGO in India) in Kokrajhar, Assam, North East India - an area marked by poverty, ongoing conflict and naturally calamities. Being the birth place of my husband Digambar Narzary, we recognized the vulnerability of the indigenous women, youth and children to human trafficking, exploitation and primarily lack of opportunities and possibilities for a viable livelihood and employment. This kept them entrenched in the cycle of poverty and exploitation. Further the environmental and geographic conditions of North East India bordering Bhutan, Myanmar, Tibet, Bangladesh and Nepal created conditions of human trafficking with open, porous borders and lack of sufficient vigilance. This is how the roots of the Social Enterprise began - to create income generation and livelihood opportunities for indigenous women from the area including survivors of human trafficking and returnee migrants - for their economic and social empowerment.  From a small income generation project through involving home-based skilled women weavers from the Bodo community of Kokrajhar District in Assam at the inception of NEDAN Foundation in 2004, a Social Enterprise called Weaving Destination took shape.

Women weavers with their children - Celebration at the Weaving Destination Centre

Today Weaving Destination includes three weaving centers in remote villages of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), Kokrajhar, Assam; a sewing unit; and a group of females trained in yarn extraction. Besides the 65 women engaged in the three weaving centers, many more have been trained and are employed in the sewing unit and yarn extraction process. One of the young women trained at the sewing unit runs her own sewing training centre with support from NEDAN Foundation. Engaging and empowering women - economically and socially - feeds back to empowering families and communities they belong to. The Weaving Destination is a social enterprise primarily for creating employment and livelihood opportunity for ethnic, indigenous local women. NEDAN Foundation - the charity organization, on the other hand, with a few international grants and revenue generated from the Weaving Destination works towards other significant issues in the area such as child protection, education, health, peace building and overall community development aspects in the villages the women come from and where the weaving centers have been established.


 Extracting the yarn prior to weaving

Together with Debi, I envision a world full of opportunities and possibilities for the women sitting and weaving in small, remote villages of the BTC and many other women like them who would not be able to fulfill their dreams and achieve their goals of self sufficiency and a contented life for themselves and their families without support from other women (and men) who have ‘made it‘ for themselves. In doing so, we also hope to create opportunities for all of us here connected to each other globally, to feel the hopes, aspirations and joys of women weavers through their beautiful organic, handwoven (more on this in subsequent posts) colourful fabrics and be blessed in the process!!

Yarn being laid out for weaving

Meeting Debi and David in Edinburgh has been one of the most beautiful experiences of being in here over past one year. Thanks for their beautiful friendship and such a meaningful partnership. 

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your part of the story Javita! What a wonderful life's mission!

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  2. This is so cool!  I'm really looking forward to seeing how you and Debi collaborate in the future.

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  3. This is so awesome! I can't wait to see how this develops. Thank you for making a difference in so many lives and for allowing us to come along and help.

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  4. I am so thankful for people like you, who not only open their eyes to see the terrible things happening but work hard to change the environment and protect people who are at risk. What a fantastic enterprise you have built. I can imagine the pride and happiness the women experience as they are able to create these beautiful things and become empowered rather than victimized. Very inspiring.

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I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

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