Feb

13

Training Kicks-off!

Monday marked the first full day of our training. Last Friday was more of an orientation to see where the women were in their skills, and  to establish some grounds rules. We also didn’t get a whole lot done because the machines were not in proper working order and we still needed to get power to them in our space.

As things go 4 out of the 8 only showed up on Friday. According to some strange Indian/Hindu culture people don’t like to start things on a Friday. One of the 4 women that was missing was ill so we decided to visit her on Sunday. Apparently she was having a allergic reaction in her feet so she couldn’t walk. We visited her home and prayed for her healing. Calvina had an opportunity to photograph her cooking a meal for her family.

By Dalit standards, her home was typical. It was a building made out of asbestos sheeting with two rooms. One for the family to sleep and one for her to cook. Her stove consisted of 4 bricks that she lay on top of a concret top and a place to add kindling. Her sons brought in long-logs that served as fuel for the fire. These sticks protruded out of the fire. A hole at the top of her kitchen served as mere ventilation to the smoke.

There was no cutting board. Just her knife and her hands to cut up the vegetables that went into her curry. Her boys ran to the nearby well to fetch her some water to wash the vegetables. She then added curry powder, garam masala, turmeric and other spices to the mix and let it simmer.

To her this is normal and a way of life. She seems happy even though she is the sole provider of her family. Her husband needs constant medical attention due to a brain illness. Our hope is to employ her so that she can feed her families and give her boys a way to go to school.

1 Comments

Jan

30

The Possible Begins Here : learning to overcome our fears

Smog. Smells. Chaos. Kolkata we meet again.
I began the week sitting down with Justin, an intern from Freeset who has been working with customer service and database management for the past year. I said I want to learn from all the processes that Freeset employs to get bags made and out to customers. Justin said “You want to learn from our processes?” He wasn’t sure they were worth emulating.

Now don’t mistake that response and think Freeset is a chaotic mess. Far from it. But it’s not easy managing almost 200 women in a four-story dilapidated complex full of small-bedroom sized production areas. They’ve been making it work for almost 13 years. Cutting is on the bottom floor. Printing is on a covered section of the roof. Sewing is in three small rooms on the second floor. And the bags are finished on a terrace on the third floor. It’s not necessarily a well oiled machine. It’s more like a creaky sewing machine with a ton of different mis-matched attachments. But it definitely gets the job done.

As a bit of a perfectionist, my goal was to come in and learn about the production process and go and develop a streamlined, gloriously efficient version of our own. I wanted to learn from the black-belts, my administrative sensei’s. But as I sat down with Ahgni the customer service manager, walked the floor with John the general manager and poured over QA files with Deb the production manager, they all shared about the same thing. They’re doing a few things right and there are a ton of things they want to fix.
There was more than a bit of frustration in all of them. But they love their work and they’re passionate about using their talents to enable more women to experience freedom from the sex-trade. When Kerry started Freeset, he didn’t wait until he had all the details, or until he formulated an air tight plan. He found a way to make it work because freedom is just too urgent of a need to wait until he got it all figured out. 

A lot of us have dreams. Sarah and I do too. And what keeps so many of us from diving headlong into these dreams is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of making a mistake and maybe plain-old-regular-strength, fear of failure. I don’t want to be the one who drops the ball or misses a crucial detail. I don’t want to be the reason why it didn’t all work! And yet freedom is indeed too urgent of call. Our lives have far too much purpose than to just sit, holed up in our little electronic cave and wait for all the uncertainties to melt away before we venture out. 

All the people we met with gave us tons of wisdom and advice. But in the end they all said about the same thing… learn what you can and then go and do it, and you’ll figure it out as you go. And so we shall.
0 Comments

Jan

04

Blanket the World with Love

EllieFunDay’s 1st Annual “Blanket the World with Love”

A friend of ours put $20 in our hand. “You and Elton need to go on a date! Have a good time!” We didn’t have much money, we were saving up for the wedding. And we were so busy, we had hardly any time to see each other. It was a really simple gesture and yet it meant so much. We’ll never forget it.

We’re starting 2013 off by “Blanketing” the World with Love! We know that our world can be a cold, hard place. And yet the simplest gestures done with love and generosity can be life and world changing! Let’s start the new year as agents of change! So many of you have already taken our “Pinky Promise” to be ambassador’s and to “Blanket the World with Love.”

We’d like to ask all of our friends out in the inter web  to join us in “Blanketing the World with Love”. Here are 3 easy ways to do it (and a few suggestions for you)!

“Blanket with a Gift” 

  • donate a blanket to Project Linus
  • pay for someone’s latte behind you
  • gift someone in need a bag of groceries
  • buy a dozen balloons and hand them out to kids in the park

“Blanket with Words”

  • compliment a stranger sincerely
  • write a letter of appreciation to someone that had a meaningful impact in your life
  • send an encouraging email to someone you haven’t talked to in a year
  • tell someone at work/school something they do well
  • write words of encouragement with chalk on your neighbors’ driveways/sidewalk

“Blanket with Fun”

  • invite a friend to have an indoor picnic
  • take a hike, even a short-walk at lunch with a friend
  • Go to a matinee with a friend

We look forward to your stories and pictures so please share them on our Facebook page

We should be blanketing our world with love everyday. But we’re planning ONE day where we’ll all do it together! Mark your calendars – JANUARY 18th! What will you be doing for “Blanket the World with Love” Day? 

 

5 Comments