Reflections from Martina from Canada who volunteered abroad in India with Leave UR Mark in May of 2014.
The Sustainable Livelihoods Program – at the Center
This program is focused on skills training for local women in Bangalore, with the goal of creating a sustainable livelihood and creating economic stability. They learn important skills like sewing, tassels, falls, tailoring, and embroidery. The Center is filled with warm, friendly and hilarious women, who enjoy laughing with each other while they learn their new skills. The sustainable livelihoods program was a vibrant group who really seemed to enjoy their time together. The program itself created a skills set which could be used to improve their incomes, their ability to make their own clothes, or even a hobby for them to enjoy. More importantly, this center demonstrates that likeminded people can come together to actively make a difference in their lives. They come together not only to gain hands-on skills, but also leave with community and dignity which enriches their lives and their futures.
An Organization that Cares
The Y not only cares about providing livelihoods training, but cares very deeply about the social and personal situations of the women. The center works towards addressing some of the most difficult issues in Indian society with love, devotion and providing access to information. They have provided important workshops on sexual health and safety, and are looking to provide more workshops on various social topics. In creating a community, friendships are developed which can help the women in various aspects of their lives, from the good to the bad, from sharing joy to seeking comfort.
Working on a case study for the Sustainable Livelihoods program was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Engaging with the women, learning some of their stories and meeting their children was both informative and inspiring. The program itself is quite new but with a big dream – one worth pursuing! The case study overviewed some of the important next steps and goals to make the program stronger, and more sustainable. Things like setting goals for funding, future staff members, workshops, and feedback mechanisms will all contribute to the success of the program. They have such a strong impact already – it is exciting to see what they will have in store for the future!
The center and all the women involved were very welcoming to us! We were greeted by everyone, and while shy at first the women were always pleasant, and it was not long before we felt at home. You could feel the sense of community in the room, and we passed time chatting about our families and about Canada, while learning more from them about life in India. They were kind enough to do Mehndi on our arms on our last day as a farewell, and also as training for them to get some practice! It was hard to leave, and we left wishing we had more time to spend in this incredible center! I loved the flexibility of the center, how it provided training for women who had a variety of goals, and worked to help them achieve them. I would recommend this placement to anyone interested in business, fashion, women’s empowerment or the not-for-profit sector.