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September 2012
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Update from The Strengths Project, Kolkata, India – July 2012

Posted by: Avirupa Bhaduri & Alex Linley

 

As regular readers of The Capp Blog will know, for a number of years through our charitable arm, The Strengths Project, Capp has supported the establishment and running of a Women’s Sewing Co-operative in Shiriti slum, Kolkata, India. The Women’s Sewing Co-operative was formed through strengthspotting and identifying the women’s strengths, then harnessing these strengths to improve their life circumstances. The project is supported by Avirupa Bhaduri, Capp’s consultant in Kolkata.

 

In her update for the month of July, Avirupa tells us about the impact of the lack of rain in the monsoon season, together with the implications for the Women’s Sewing Co-operative of both a price rise in the cost of a reel of cotton and the impact of the upcoming wedding for one of the senior members of the Co-operative…

 

“July is officially height of monsoon, but this year the south west monsoon winds have been very unpredictable. There was hardly any rain in June and if the first week of July was any indication, then India is about to face serious crisis in terms of rainfall. We were discussing the impact of so less rain for crops, in our first meeting. It is interesting to note that somehow, although Sharmila, Mousumi, Shyama, Arpita and others have lived all their lives in the slums of the city, they seem inexorably drawn towards village.

 

The discussion turned to the steep price hike that has hit us hard in recent times. We were discussing how a reel of thread which six months back cost Rs.3 have become dearer by Rs.2. Therefore the women agreed that it is imperative that we scout for work now, as we will be able to offer cheap labour cost, and it will be a relief for the women if they can add a little extra money to support their family income. We promised each other that we will each think about a strategy for getting work by the next week’s meeting.

 

But on 12th a surprise awaited me. As I approached the group Sharmila shyly announced that the date of her wedding was finalized for 29th. All of us congratulated her; she was indeed the best of the group; sincere, hard working, talented and efficient. I was apprehensive about what it will mean for our group, whether she will be able to be part of us after marriage. But Sharmila confidently assured that her husband lives in the same community, which means she won’t migrate to a different part of the city. She also said that she had known the boy for a long time, he is very supportive of her every endeavor, and in fact always encourages her about being part of The Strengths Project. I felt happy at the pride she feels about her role with TSP. We only discussed Sharmila & her marriage in that meeting.

 

The next Thursday Sharmila was busy with pre-wedding preparation so she was absent. The rest of us discussed the possibility of generation of work, but the only idea that kept recurring was to have an exhibition…somehow. The boys of the local club have not summoned us, so the pressure to garner money for donation was not there immediately. But all of us really wanted to showcase our work to the world. Sensing their strong desire, I once again resolved to do something, however small, about the exhibition. Our meeting for the following week was adjourned for the occasion of Sharmila’s wedding. It gave me some time to explore options and speculate about how to arrange the elusive exhibition.”

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