Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level.
iVolunteer in Partnership with Srujna celebrated Women’s Day with the Women Artisans of Tetwali Village of Palghar District on March 08, 2020. Srujna is an organization that provides skills and knowledge to underprivileged women through trainings and workshops, to transform them into independent, confident and contributing members of their families and communities. Srujna also encourages and supports bamboo artisans of Tetwali Village in Palghar district. The main purpose of the initiative was to understand the bamboo art made by the women artisans; to give a tribal exposure to the volunteers and spend time with the women; and also, to understand the culture and lifestyle of the women.
The day began with meeting the volunteers at Andheri Station. A total of 11 volunteers participated for the activity. Out of 11, 5 volunteers were from ‘Hum Badlenge India’ and others from various fields viz; corporate, dentist, social sector, etc. We all gathered at Platform no. 8 of Andheri Station, Eesha from Srujna Charitbale Trust also joined us. Our journey began with boarding the 7:38 train to Palghar. We reached Palghar station at 9:10 am. 5 volunteers from ‘Hum Badlenge India’ joined us at Plaghar Station out of which 2 volunteers came from Umbergaon which is Maharashtra and Gujarat border. We had tea and snacks at Palghar Station and then walked to the city bus stop. We then took the local bus to Tetwali which dropped us at the village at 11:30 am. The moment we were out of Mumbai we seemed to have entered a new world. It was a mesmerizing journey to the village. As soon as we got down from the bus, we saw beautiful hut and houses made by the men artisans at the entrance. There were no city crowds, no maddening din of the work-a-day world.
We were welcomed by Mr. Panduranga dada who is the Upasarpanch of the village. He called the women of the village and we introduced each other. The women were very shy. They welcomed us by a group song which was sung beautifully by the women. Eesha from Srujna Charitable Trust gave orientation about the organization and also told how Srujna helps the women artisans in marketing and sales of the products. Ms. Namita (women artisan) gave introduction about the products being manufactured there. There was a small exhibition of the products arranged for us by the women; various bamboo products from small earing box to big study table were kept for sale. Volunteers bought different products as per their wish. The women taught us how to make bamboo tray and paper weight and then we realized that it takes a lot of effort to make a simple bamboo product. The women of the village started learning bamboo art since April 2019 and were taught them by the Keshav Shrusti Organization. Initially it was very difficult for them to learn the art and broke their nails learning it. The women were so dedicated that they learnt the art within few months and are now called as professional women artisans. There was a strange expression of calmness, contentment and courage on every face. We all then gathered for the lunch. Delicious lunch was made by the women, which included daal, rice and sabji.
After the delicious lunch, we played a team building game with the women and the children. Everyone enjoyed the game as it was something new for the women and the children. The day was ended by a group photo and feedback of the volunteers, women and Eesha from Srujna.
It was totally a new exposure for iVolunteer team and the volunteers, for a moment we forgot our city life. The experience was like a rebirth. We all enjoyed and left for the day with a lot of learnings. It was indeed a day of joy for all of us, a day on which we really lived.