Good Going in North Goa

I woke up this morning to a pretty wonderful view from our hotel’s balcony, I really wish I had had a bit more time to take another dip in the pool before breakfast. My legs were still a bit sore from the dancing of last night but that didn’t stop us from going for a walk around an old Portuguese fort. The view from the fort was really beautiful but the sun made it feel a bit like a frying pan. I sweated a lot. Speaking of sweat, India has  taught me a lot about why we sweat in order to cool off in the wind. Sweating indoors just seems wrong because your body is just like “this always cools me off, why isn’t this working?” Just something I think about a lot when I am sweating a lot.

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We got back on the bus and made our way to the Museum of Goa contemporary arts. Tragedy struck right before we arrived, my camera fell off of my lap and onto the floor of the bus. Unfortunately the glass filter on the lense shattered. It looks worse than the actual damage, since the lense itself is still intact. I assumed the worst, so I was happy to discover that my lens is still usable. (I only realized this at the end of the day and spent too much brain power concerned about replacing a lens)img_20170527_134848 

I didn’t have any expectations of this gallery as I know very little about Goan Contemporary artists.  I was immediately intrigued by the space the gallery was in, it was this gorgeous loft -like building with white walls and so much natural sunlight. I was also impressed by how accessible the work it self was, I don’t always “get” contemporary or modern art but I felt that the way it was being explained was very logical and intuitive. The artist/owner, Subodh Kerkar  would make works that played with material and historical contradictions to express the meaning of his work, an example of this is his piece tilted Goa’s Ark. This work is a play on the Christian story of Noah’s ark and a reference to event that took place in Goan history involving fisherman and statues of their Gods.


I learned so much from that gallery and was really inspired by our conversation with Subodh Kerkar, he really embodied the idea of taking your pleasure seriously in the at that he went from being a doctor to an artist and gallery owner. So many of the career opportunities he spoke about became available to him though his openness and willingness to take risks. Taking your pleasure seriously is something that I want to make a large part of my own life and how I go about my design practice.

We spent quite a while in the gallery, by the time we finished it was time for lunch. We went to a busy restaurant so while we waited to be seated I explored the other parts of the building along with Alyssa and Michael.


After lunch we did a bit of shopping/research, first we went to a shop called Sacha’s, it had all kinds of beautifully crafted objects. The owner of this store was telling us that all of the fabric that is used in making the clothes in specially woven. I was really impressed by the careful curation of the store and how intentional their design work was.


The second place we visited was called paperworks and it was a store which (unsurprisingly) sold paper! There were some gorgeous cards and notebooks, I purchased some wrapping paper which to me looks nice enough to hang on a wall. I also picked up a small block print to play around with, maybe for the project we are working on now and definitely for my own summer projects back in Toronto.  When we got back to Jasminn we had a bit of time to talk over the direction for projects and I feel confident in the place we’re at with it. There is a lot to be done in the next few days but anything is possible!


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.


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.


Scissors, tape, and Coca Cola

Today began with everyone meeting in the living room for some very early morning presentations. We had all spent a long time the night before analysing the user and stakeholder interviews, and understandably this morning people were still wiping the sleep out of their eyes. I was one of those sleepy faces actually, but in my defence, my cherished OCAD earplugs vanished the night before.  They will be missed dearly.

The presentations went very well, and both groups gained a lot of good insight from each other.  For me, this is the first opportunity I have had to do multiple in depth interviews, and it’s really fascinating how much you can learn.  I’ll admit, not being leading when asking questions is not my strong suit.  I’m just too friendly to coldly ask about people’s habits, but I’ll improve.



















We spent the rest of the day in the café doing more research into materials.  It seems that we have zeroed in on using textile from industrial sized rice bags that are left over at the grocery store itself.  The material is great, it’s durable, can be cut to large sheets, and is widely available from many businesses and factories right here in Goa.  After researching for a few hours I took an obligatory swim in the pool, and I’m beginning to think that it is probably the one amenity that our school should invest in next.  Student union reps, if you are reading this you know what will get my vote!

In the evening we all gathered for the typical dinner of rice, curries, and roti.  I discovered today that you can get room service for things like CocaCola during dinner; this is a slippery slope.  Over dinner we discussed a reading concerning whether humanitarian design is the new colonialism.  Clearly, this is a tricky subject.  There are many cases of designers doing harm to developing nations with poorly thought out projects; for example harming local economies by flooding them with donated goods.  However, over the past week it is becoming clear to me that we are serving more the role of enthusiastic connectors between different organizations, people, and resources.  Hopefully our projects will create sustainable opportunities after we’ve left, and I feel confident that overall we are doing good.

Back on the subject of our project, we hit another major milestone this evening!  We bought tape, scissors, and paper!  The time has come to start prototyping and sketching, and it feels good.  You can see Maddy and Genevieve hard at work in the photo below.  This was taken in make shift office #2, this time on the second.  It’s crazy to think that by this time next week these paper models will be polished designs with a presentation, instruction manual, and implementation plan (o lord that is daunting to say out loud), but I know we will pull it off!





Wednesday, hump day, a day of clarity

The days seem to be stretching out beyond the hours of the sun.

Tomorrow, Project 2 is due and both of our groups must prepare a presentation of the interviews we have conducted so far. The Oscar’s Junction group has finished their interviews and space analyses since yesterday and are planning for a full day of work at the villa. Start time – 9:30 am. Our Tara Trust group still has several interviews up ahead and today we are preparing to meet two different hotel owners.

At the moment, I still have blanks in my mind about the direction of our project. Having had meetings with the group of women working for Tara Trust on Monday and a meeting with a Park Hyatt employee on Tuesday, the interview notes that we have gathered thus far still feel disconnected. However, things started coming together after a meeting with an inspiring woman, both stylistically and project-wise. After breakfast (with scrambled eggs and omelets!), Sarah, T’mika, Melih, Liza, Megan and I piled into a car while Raksha sped along side on her motor bike. At 10:30 am, we arrived at a quaint looking boutique hotel, the Vivenda Dos Palhacos. We were first greeted by two dogs, long and floppy looking beagles.


Then walked out Charlotte, a nicely put together British woman, dressed in various shades of pink. Her greeting was immediately warm and inviting, which we soon saw reflected in her hotel. Walking to a table outside, we began to see into her curious boutique hotel. It was very different from the Hyatt property that we toured yesterday. Rather than striving for convenience, comfort and a more universal idea of luxury, Charlotte aims to intrigue her guests and allow for a charming and unique stay. I particularly enjoyed her active role in her guests stay. She makes it a point to initiate conversation and relationship between guests. The best part is that there are so often connections between her guests. People realize that they’ve gone to the same school in elementary or that they live on the same street back home. The coincidences of this world are endless.

Sitting around the table in the courtyard, we were served fresh water lime sodas as Sarah introduced the project to Charlotte. She was excited, motivated and gave a lot of input. The session passed by with ideas and examples of materials, marketing and typical Goan styles thrown around.


Silk scarves, playing cards, a match box, books and another NGO product example were all passed around for us to take a gander. It was a big moment of brainstorming and expanding on the ideas we already had for Hyatt. After this, we toured the space.


Each room was completely unique and the décor was gathered as an eclectic grouping of items from all around India. The architecture and interior decorations become a combination of local Indian, Portuguese and Western style. From a charming and intimate pool to humorous framed images, Charlotte managed to piece together a hotel like no other.

The space was so nice that Melih had an impromptu photo shoot!


Ninoshka and Silke, working with us from Tara Trust shared some of the past items made by the women of the Zari community. When looking at the tote bags, paper baskets and notebooks Charlotte did not hold back on her criticism. She explained that products needed more character, more of a story towards the wonderful initiative and people behind them. Why would I buy this generic tote bag over any other? I don’t know who made it. Be brave and people will love it. Be adventurous. Her words stood strongly in the space between us. It was refreshing and a necessary thought to add to our further exploration of materials, products and branding.

We eventually said our goodbyes and returned to the hotel.

The next few hours were filled with lunch and more process work. The Oscar’s junction group has been making good strides towards product and material analysis. Testing bags on motorcycles and testing fabrics thresholds with soda bottles, books and pillows. A limited summary of their process from what I know so far, it’ll be probably be best to have our presentations tomorrow.

Around 5pm, Manish, the owner of the hotel we are staying at, became available for an interview. Manish sat down with us in his restaurant and was very open about his business ideologies. He not only shared information about hotel management, but also showed excited interest in the Tara Trust initiative and the women’s products. Another potential client! Things are moving! The foggy front end that Sarah warned us about is lifting!

We toured different rooms and spaces around the property as Manish continued to spew information and insights. But even more than this, he led us to another person of interest. It turns out that there is a business owner that sells local artisan works online, and she is staying in the villa right next to ours. A funny continuation of coincidences… We now have another interview to set up and further considerations to make with Tara Trust’s trajectory.

Finally, the sun set and we made our way back to the villa to catch dinner. It had been a long day at this point, but the night was not over yet. DJ Terry Tunes is playing by the poolside tonight and we get to have dinner at the restaurant!


A moment in the strobe lights of fame for both Melih and Megan.

Let alone dancing to a couple tunes sung by Terry before finally heading back home.

A blurry capturing of Raksha and Megan’s salsa skills. The dancing never stops.


Project 2 is still due tomorrow morning and we know that it’s going to be a long night. While finalizing our presentations and interview summaries, some trail in and out of sleep and others stay awake with the motivation of late night, left over pasta.


One by one we close our laptops and head to bed. 3:30 am marks my threshold for the evening. Goodnight and see you all bright and early.

Dance, dance baby!

We had an interview with the Park Hyatt Hotel, Goa branch’s marketing manager at 11:00 AM and one of my eyes is still sleeping and the other one is begging for sleep. On the other hand, I was excited to have my Nutella that I got last night with the toasted bread in the morning. After the breakfast, we rested a bit and then went to the Park Hyatt Hotel.

It was so interesting because there was an X-Ray machine and a metal detector in front of the hotel and a guy scanned our car with a machine to make sure that there is nothing explosive. The hotel was beautiful and so luxurious looking. There were tourists and local people who were visiting Goa. We waited at the lobby for the person who we were going to interview. After she came we went to the restaurant (which was amazing) and they offered us drinks.

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After asking a couple of questions, we started our tour of the hotel. We visited two different rooms and the beach. The first room was smaller than the second one and less luxurious and the second room was massive and there were rose petals beside the bath; which I loved the most. My team members and I took pictures of the products they are using in the rooms or generally at the hotel in order to brainstorm for women who we are working with.

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After our tour, we came back to the lobby and there was a person who was the HR Manager and we asked a couple of more questions before heading back out to our resort.



I slept three hours because I was extremely sleepy and the heat here is making me more tired than ever. After a three-hour sleep, I took shower and went downstairs to see what people are doing. As I was sitting on the veranda, the sky’s colour turned into orange! Megan and Alyssa went to the rooftop to take pictures and then around 7 PM, I went there to see what they were doing up there because it was dark already and they were not back yet. So I went to upstairs and they were chatting and chilling without me…







10-15 minutes later, the second group came back from their interviews so we went downstairs to have dinner together.


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I am so picky in terms of food, so I was hoping that there would be rotis so that I could eat my Nutella with them and the rotis were there! After talking during the food, we had a 20-minute break and then Raksha took us to our resort’s fun zone to teach us some Bollywood dance moves. Some people got tired, the others kept partying! I really enjoyed the dance night.



P.S. I have my fourth eye now.


Getting Started

May 22nd 2017

The exciting part of the day started around 3:00 pm, when we drove through the streets of Zuarinagar to meet with the people who would influence the direction and goals of the projects we were to spend the next 2 weeks completing. We’ve travelled through Zuarinagar many times since the program started, but today was the day serious work had to start.


We arrived at a place called Kiran & Niketan to meet the women who can make the bags we will be designing throughout the rest of our time in Goa. Kiran & Niketan provides spaces and programs for women to make extra money for them and their families by making products that can be sold in markets or during festivals.


We learnt a lot about the different techniques and materials used to make the bags, and the efforts and skills required to produce them. Some were made with dyed fabrics, which resulted in bags with bright colours, such as pink and green, or blue and yellow.


we were also introduced to the spaces within Kiran & Niketan that are used to make the bags, full of equipment and tools required to make them quickly and efficiently.  Although our project focuses on shopping bags, the women who spend their time there have the abilities to make many other things as well.


One of the women later brought us into her home to show us the space she works in during some of her spare time as well as a selection of things she makes, which were kept near her sewing machine. We discussed what she wished to see happen with the project while enjoying chai which she kindly made for us while we admired some of her finished products.


Having the opportunity to conduct interviews and discussions with the women who will use our project is one of the things we appreciate the most about spending time and working in India. Designing side by side with real people who will benefit from the finished product is something we aren’t used to doing, but it reminds us of who our work is impacting and why communication and understanding is important if you want your work to make differences.


Little Mumbai

When the day is long and you can’t wait to slide into you bed, but you wish you had a little bit more energy to do and see more of Mumbai. Today is one of my favourite days, and luckily I get to blog about it.

We started the day a little bit more flexible. The group had the freedom of either sleeping in, going shopping or walking in the streets of Mumbai. The group divided itself into the shopping lovers and the rest. I was in the shopping group with Genevieve and T’mikah. We have gotten much better at bargaining. It is one of those things you either really enjoy or don’t. We had more time to shop after we checked out the hotel. This time, mostly everyone went shopping. I was shopping with T’mikah and Melih. Melih was so excited to buy clothes, that if you walked a bit slower than he does – and he’s fast; you were left behind. You want to go shopping with Melih, bargaining is one of his hobbies.


We then visited a store called FebIndia. It is a beautiful store than has amazing fabric and better quality material that are made from traditional techniques, and mostly hand-based.  The store has workers that actually studied fashion so they are paid fair wages; which is not always the case in India, for that the prices were much higher than what we have been seeing elsewhere. Their vision is to celebrate India, and share their love to India with people from around the world. The Tags include a little story that tells you more about the design and the people who made it.




Food, Food, Food. We then head for lunch at a place called Candies. It has a variety of food with reasonable prices. If you’re here, and you miss your daily salad, that’s where you would want to go. While we were eating the food outside, the birds weren’t too happy with T’mikah and Genevieve, they decided to poop on them and their food. The same thing happened to Michael earlier, so we believe they have got cursed.


After food we had a tour with Reality Tours & Travel in the Dharavi slums.  Dharavi has about 1,000,000 people in a 2.16 Km2 area, which is around 400 football pitches. Knowing Mumbai, it is one of highest densest countries in the world, and Dharavi slum is 20 times denser than Mumbai. You can imagine the amount of people there. We went on a Sunday which is not a rush day as normal, so we were able to walk around freely. The slum is divided into two parts: industry and residential. I am not sure what you’re thinking when you hear the word slum, but we were amazed by what we saw. Dharavi is the home to many people but also the work place of so many others. Dharavi includes around 5,000 business and 10,000 factories with leather, plastic, and textile as their main industries. The daily wages range around Rs. 400 with a 10-12 hours of work. Hence that is why this slum is very different than other slums we might have seen. Slums are divided into legal and illegal slums. Legal in the sense that the people own their houses, but the lands belong to the government. Dharavi is a legal slum that used to be a big garbage dumb.


They stared to have tours around the slums to take away from the stigma that there is stealing and a lot of crime. In fact, it is very well protected because police men live inside, and more importantly, because have a sense of community that they don’t want to lose. We saw restaurants, bakeries, post offices, hospitals, schools, and market areas. Around 85% of children go to school, even if their parents are uneducated, to ensure a good future for them.


Source of images: Reality Tours and Travel                                             Link to more photos:

We ended the tour and head to the airport. Mumbai’s airport is fascinating, with beautiful interior and colourful space. We would have loved to had more time to explore it but we rushed to get food for the burgers lovers.


Spotted: the World’s King.


FYI: Melih’s new goal is to be the world’s king… Let’s see how this goes.

We ended the day by waiting for our luggage at the carousal, but since we didn’t check any in, we were happy to have found our lost member.  img_2510


Exploring Mumbai

We started off our Mumbai weekend with a visit to the Kanheri Caves. As we approached there were numerous Monkeys throughout the trees. The Caves where an ancient Hinayna and Mahayana sects Buddhist Monastery from BC to 11th century AD. The sun was beaming down as the group made our way though some of the 110 Caves dispersed throughout the hill. The architecture was dictated by the natural slope of the hill. It was clear that each cave was made for a different purpose from a dining hall to a meditation room, to living quarters. The group was amazed by the preservation of the structures and the different sculptures of buddha. We later learned that Buddhism was once one of the main believes with in India due to the influence of the king at the time named Swami Vivekananda. The Monastery was active for 1200 years and has been preserved since.20170520_09255020170520_10342920170520_093618


After the Caves we stopped to see the world’s largest outdoor Laundry service located in downtown Mumbai. The service stated with multiple laundry business opening up in the same area. The government eventually paid for out doors concrete tubs for the business. Now is very common for establishments such as hotels or any downtown business to use this service.


We went to lunch at a well known Mumbai restaurant called Leopole Cafe. It gave us a nice break after the active morning. After lunch our day was filling with activities consisting of bargaining at the market, aweing at the Taj Hotel, understanding the history of the gateway of India, seeing the first train station built by the British, smelling the spices at the downtown food market, and we finished the day by admiring the floating mosque at sunset. Seeing the busy city gave me a lot of context about the the history of India an how certain infrastructure came to be.






Feeling Fly in Mumbai…or not


I’ve started a routine of waking up early. It’s nice to start with a cup of tea on our verandah and start meditating on the day, do some homework, or catch up with friends back home. Our essays were due today, so there was an above average attendance in the porch area this morning, all of us editing and reading through each other’s essays.


Breakfast was brought into the guesthouse and we all gathered. As the week continues it becomes less strict about waiting for everyone to sit at at the table and people dive in more quickly.


We started discussing the overview, challenges, potential, and deliverables of each project. Indecision was high and all-consuming for some, others picked out of a vague preference for one and a slight indifference to being placed in either, and some felt strongly matched for a particular project.

As we were talking about all the different aspects of the projects, I began to form a preference for the Tara Trust project, whose aim is to create product(s) for a high-end hotel produced by a women’s group. Luckily everyone was evenly split, so the groups were fair and everyone was happy, mostly…albeit some may have still felt a bit of the crushing weight of indecision, even though the decisions were made.



We ate lunch, once again with some laggers and other keeners getting at the food in survival of the fittest style, but with plenty enough to eat that everyone got fed, eventually.


Immediately after lunch we had some time to pack, relax, and meet in our newly formed groups. T’mikah and I did some rose water facial masks, so that we could ‘feel fly in Mumbai.’ The rose water masks smelled so good, and made us feel as though it actually removed the layers of sweat built up over the week on our faces.


A little while later we heard squeals and gasps upstairs, Jacob cut his hair. But, he didn’t just cut his hair, he really styled it. Not fashioned it, per se, but it’s definitely a style.

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Finally learning to be responsible adults over the last week, we leave on time at 3pm sharp for the airport. Mumbai was an exciting prospect, although my stomach didn’t seem to think so. It began to grumble and I hoped it wouldn’t lead to more tumultuous situations.

As we waited we played a game I’ve known referred to as Mafia, although some know it by Werewolf or other shifty-sounding monikers. We were all fairly rough at it, and everyone knew slightly different rules, so we’ll just leave it at that we’ll need more practice to have a complete game.


We were all boarded and ready for take-off. At this point, my stomach was churning and I’d rather have just sat than stood for any given amount of time, but I was ready and willing to hold it together for a flight.





It all happened very quickly. We land, we stand, and we start moving, along with the contents of my stomach. I let Sarah know I’m in a bad way, and she frantically searched for any sort of container to contain whatever might come. First it’s a cup, and it just won’t do. Next is a transparent file folder which is going to make it very transparent to anyone around me what I ate for lunch earlier that day.

As I walk up to the front of the plane, I try to, as casually and calmly as one is able, throw up the entire contents of my day into the transparent file folder, all the while sandwiched tightly between other airplane commuters. This was not a high moment for me, this was very much a low, but I also instantly felt a relief I just wasn’t feeling before. As I reached the front of the plane, the stewardess sits me down immediately and provides a bag for the folder and cup of water. There’s wasn’t much time to rest, other airplane commuters were waiting just in the loading tunnel to the front door of the plane. I collect myself and my contents and meet up with the group just outside, and threw out the evidence as soon as I could find the appropriate receptacle.

Outside of the plane, there was a strong sense of rose water…figure that, it was full circle with the refreshing scents from just a few hours before. Mumbai seems so much more modern and cosmopolitan than Goa, and it felt a little shocking for such a drastic change after such a short plane ride. Traffic was faster and more hectic, Goa feels like a quaint countryside in comparison. The lights were all blurred and every few moments I felt like I was going to see a major accident occur before my eyes.



We arrived at the hotel, which has an all-marble entry, fine detail woodworking, and sculptures placed decadently on the walls. All the accounts are still done by hand in a book.



(The Fanny Pack) – a pack of ardent fanny pack wearers, with no shame, and no preoccupied hands

Soon after settling in, we made our way to our first restaurant of choice, Barbeque Nation. The table settings were all perfectly placed, and it felt lush, but unfortunately, and retrospectively predictably, the prices matched the aesthetic. After bartering a bit and finding out other menu options, we decided to move on and move out onto Sizzlers. It was an amazing choice, and the plates really sizzled, steaming a veggie and meat spa treatment into your face as soon as it was placed before you.

With my stomach still feeling sensitive, I opted out of food and had a fresh squeezed watermelon juice. I don’t know why I chose that…I don’t even like watermelon, but it was truly a delight.



I went back home (our temporary home at least), and began to write, which brings us all here. It’s late, and there’s more yet to do and see tomorrow. For the sake of my sanity, and to finally include some brevity in this lengthy post, I bid farewell and happy stomachs.

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.


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.


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

Meeting new people and learning new things!

We began our day by meeting with the owner of Oscar’s Junction Supermarket, one of the companies we will be working with over the next three weeks. He told us about the kinds of bags that he provides to his customers, how those bags are used and how much it costs to make them. We also discussed his customers shopping habits, in particular the frequency of peoples visits. I learned that there are a number of motivations behind peoples’ habits such as transport, socialization and daily wages. I enjoyed taking an analytical approach to grocery shopping, it is interesting to look at something very familiar and mundane then place it in a whole new context.

In the afternoon we visited with Tara Trust, they are an organization that aims to empower women and underprivileged children though creative expression. They focus on teaching craft skills to women and further helping to bridge the gap between the women and their potential clients. In this case Tara trust aims to bring work from the women they educate into upscale hotels in Goa. We were able to look at some samples of the women’s work, mainly fabric goods and rope or paper bowls. This reinforces the value and empowering nature of learning, as well as the importance of investing in women. 18574967_1382782625140807_1332590163_o




Sweaty shops and recycling plants


It’s 10:30pm, and I’m writing from the safety of our air conditioned guest house in a make shift work space of hotel furniture and Indian electrical plug adapters. That being say, I feel like this air conditioned break is well deserved, because today was a great long and sweaty day.

We began the morning by exploring some new marketplaces, and getting a feel for what resources we have at hand for the upcoming project. As a long, somewhat awkward train of foreigners, we wandered through local shops selling fabrics, metal, clothing, and strange pyramid shaped sweets called “Jaggery.” We attracted the usual stares, but overall we were treated warmly by everyone we encountered.

Later in the afternoon, we had a chance to get meet with a local entrepreneur, who explained to us about the extreme lack of waste removal and recycling services in India, and even brought us inside a local recycling plant. The details he gave us were shocking, but I was extremely impressed by how passionately his team was working to address the issue. Not only were they efficient and organized, but they were actively involved in lobbying for new policies, and spreading recycling awareness to their community.

What also made a big impression was his commitment to address this huge issue in a series of small ways. Instead of aiming to continually scale his business as large as possible, he insisted on remaining small to avoid complications and to maintain a strong relationship with his employees and the community. He would then allow others to freely replicate the business model in different regions, leaving everything he did as “copyleft,” (an awesomee term for free to-use).

His mindset seemed to echo the idea of, “only taking as much as you need,” which I have heard repeatedly in these two weeks of India. I’m excited to see how we can learn more from this perspective, and bring it with us as our projects begin to develop.