Destiny’s 1st Birthday27 Oct 2009, by Uncategorized in
July 21, 2008 was the first day of Destiny. We were planning our one year birthday party before I broke my leg, so as soon as I got back to Kolkata we again started making preparations. The women decided to have lunch at the center, and then go shopping in one of the local markets. But Smarita and I wanted to have something a little more special for them, and decided to take them to a new Punjabi restaurant. After working in the morning, we all took the bus to this restaurant and rented out the whole place. Everything from biryani to paneer was ordered and we brought a delicious chocolate cake. The oldest and youngest of the women cut the cake, to show that we celebrate women of all ages and backgrounds in our production center. After we were all completely stuffed, we walked down the street to the newest shopping mall in Kolkata, South City.
As soon as we entered, the women started giggling. They all stared wide-eyed at the huge posters on each of the store fronts. When they looked up, they could see a large dome window filling the entire mall with sunlight. I asked them if they wanted to see my favorite store, a small fair trade handicraft shop called Mother Earth. They all excitedly said yes and we walked to the escalator. It never occurred to me that this may be their first time seeing an escalator, and I casually stepped on. The first
woman looked terrified, then asked me "What do I do?" As I was already moving I instructed, "Just step on." She tried, laughing, and lost her balance a little but caught hold of the rail. The other women followed, holding on to each other as they stepped on, wobbling a little but laughing all the while. When we got to the handicraft shop, the women immediately started picking through all of the items. With each one they proudly exclaimed, "I can make this." Then they looked at the prices and said "My God! Why are they so much?" I told them to think about where the store is located, and what expenses they have. Our team leader said, "I understand. They have to pay so much for rent, and air conditioning, lights, employees. That’s why these products are so expensive." Seems like Smarita’s business classes with the women are working!
Afterwards, we all stepped outside for an ice cream cone. One of the ladies asked "Becky, can we have a shop here?" I told them let’s make that our goal and maybe one day we will! It would be so wonderful to them picking up their own products in a shop one day, and instead of hearing them say, "I can make this," hearing them say, "I made this!"