time is of the essence

The plan for the day is for the two groups to work on our prototypes. After lots of research and brainstorming the Tara Trust group decided to zone in on making a beach bag for the physical prototype and then showcase the other products through graphics. Megan and I headed for Margao Market with Raksha to source materials. As discussed with our group members Alyssa, Liza and Melih we decided to get linen and burlap for the exterior of the bag and then line the bag with a cotton saree print. We also found colourful rope, coconut buttons and zippers for the bag. The market is becoming a familiar place for us to go to. I love the variety of products; from fabric to fresh fruits and veggies to things you never knew you needed, this market has it all. Everybody from men to women to children alike are working hard and hustling to sell their products. Margao Market has been one of the best forms of inspiration as we start to get a better understanding of the Goan lifestyle.

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We then headed back to the guesthouse for a quick lunch as both groups have planned to go to Kiran Niketan to get some sewing done with the women. Because we just got our materials not too long before we left for Kiran Niketan we didn’t have much time to prepare and cut out a pattern for the bag prior to. Thus, when we got there we made quick decisions about the design so that we could start sewing. We decided on an oversized beach bag, cut out the design, and then one of the women started the sewing. We realized after that there are some changes that needed to be made with the design of the bag and so we needed to go back to talk to our group members.

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Today the stress was real, as we are fast approaching the deadline. Our group really felt a sense of urgency to make more progress on our product. I am anticipating two long days and nights ahead of us in order to complete our project.

Our group then took some much needed time to relax and refresh our minds. We celebrated Megan’s birthday with balloons, Henna Night and of course, cake and ice cream! Raksha created beautiful, unique henna designs for each of us; some of us got inspired to start doing their own Henna!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEGAN !

the little things

Today we had a full agenda planned, as it is day one of our last weekend getaway. We are all excited to have a much needed break, soak in some inspiration at the beach, reflect on our projects and of course go shopping! Our first stop was the antique shop where we saw mostly Japanese art, antique tea sets, sculptures as well as wooden furniture. We then went to Margao Market looking for materials to spark some ideas. The two groups split up to divide and conquer. We met a beautiful woman named Leta who wanted us to go and visit her jewelry store. She was excited to learn that we are from Canada and that sparked conversation. We learned a little bit about her and her perspective on life. She said unlike many people in India she is proud of her skin tone and she encouraged use to also be proud of what God has blessed us with. We then said our goodbyes and she reminded us to never stop smiling. It is little moments like this that truly add meaning to our trip here in Goa. India is so busy, crowded with so many people, on many different walks of life. So it was really nice to stop, and actually talk to someone … even if it was for just a few minutes. We have so much to learn from one another, if we would just stop and listen.

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We came back to the guesthouse and had a surprise waiting for us. Raksha ordered Puri with Mango Pulp as treat for lunch! It was amazing, everybody was obsessed with the Puri … we couldn’t have enough of it! After a fulfilling lunch, we set out for a tour of BITS Pilani, which is an institute for technology and science. I was impressed with how inclusive the school is. There are many sports and groups for the students to get involved in. One of the main student groups is for festivals. It is important that the community of faculty and students to come together and celebrate all festivals so that everyone feels as home, regardless of their religion.

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Finally, it was time to head to the coast of North Goa, check into our hotel and got ready for the beach! Walking along the beach was such a beautiful experience. The sun was getting ready to set; there were other people, dogs and cows alike walking along the beach with us #onlyinindia. With the sand between our toes, the sun on our faces and the waves setting the mood around us life could not be any sweeter. This was the perfect start to our weekend. Afterwards, we did a little shopping to get a few last minute souvenirs and then went to dinner at St. Anthony’s on Baga Beach. Dinner led to drinks, which led to a few of us singing karaoke and dancing the night away! All in all, it was the little things that made this an amazing day.

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women x women | bridging the gap

Today we visited Kiran Niketan Primary School and Social Centre in Zuarinagar, Goa. The community centre provides training programs, after school tutoring as well as medical services. This organization acts as a platform for the migrant community to come together and learn skills that can be applied to many areas of their life. The main training program run by Kiran Niketan is the tailoring program; funded by the government and runs for 6 months, twice a year. This is a great opportunity to learn sewing techniques and to gain motivation to become an entrepreneur.

There are classes that teach young girls how to macramé and crochet. The first item that they create is to be taken home as a prototype to show their families. Then all of the other products made go towards the annual exhibition in February. All of the proceeds go towards the training and learning programs at Kiran Niketan. In past years these funds have gone towards providing sewing machines to the centre for the girls and women to work.

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During our visit at Kiran Niketan we had the opportunity to meet the 10 women who are apart of the Paper Bag Project. These women have been working on the project for 3 months and have become very skilled at bag production. For newspaper bags the women have created an assembly line of which is separated into two groups: one group does the folding, cutting & pasting and the second group does adds the rivets and handles to the bag. The women are paid per bag that is completed. Together, these women are passionate about their job and create quick, quality work. Kiran Niketan Social Centre offers amazing services to support women’s empowerment and to help bridge the gap.

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Tara Trust is one of the organizations that we have the opportunity to work with over the next few weeks. They have a group of 30 women who have been working along side Tara Trust for 3 years. Tara Trust rents one of the women’s homes in Zari for the ladies to use as their workshop. The women have learned many different skill sets over the past few years such as sewing, embroidery, paper making, weaving, crochet and macramé. There is one woman in particular who is an expert seamstress, tailor and pattern maker. She is the go-to for Tara Trust whenever the team has a new idea. She can visualize drawings and turn them into a prototype for other women to follow. The women are very creative and resourceful. Often many of the products are the ideas of women; they take different materials and transform them into unique products. They are evolving as the creative process goes along. It was an honour to meet these women and see how passionate they are about creating.

img_1530It was refreshing to see two organizations empower women to use their spare time to gain an income doing something they are passionate about. I am really looking forward to collaborating with this community of women so that together; we can create an impact on the community.

– T’mikah