India celebrates her 69th Independence Day today. We who have been lucky to be born in free India probably cannot even imagine the struggles people went through in the pre Independence Era. In today’s context, I often wonder if we are really Independent. The Freedom our forefathers fought for was, to claim their own country. What does Freedom mean in today’s context?
In my view:
- A culture that is free of age old meaningless rituals has true freedom.
- A country where freedom of expression is accepted, individual thinking is encouraged and differences in opinion are respected has freedom.
- An education system that is based on merit and financial conditions and not the caste a student was borne in has freedom.
- A society where the divide between the rich and poor is not a deep bottomless chasm is truly free.
We have grown so accustomed to blaming the system in everything that we forget that we have the capability and authority to change things too. We need to be conscious of what we do and be willing to make a change. I am not talking about devoting your whole life to bringing a revolution. We can contribute in small ways. Something we can do very easily is support an NGO. I have heard so many people say that we can never be sure that the contributions we make to NGOs are reaching the right people or not. My response to that is that this is precisely the reason people like you and I need to be associated with them. We need to look at this not as Charity but as our contribution to the society. As our responsibility toward the progress of our country.
When I was looking for NGOs that are doing good work, I came across Aham Bhumika.
Aham Bhumika is an NGO based in Bhopal. The members of Aham Bhumika are regular people like us who work in government or private sector to support their own family and the endeavor of Aham Bhumika. They work in villages at the outskirts of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. Their main centre is in village Borda. Aham Bhumika has a rural pre-school of 30+ children in the said village. They also have week end classes for 60 + children on every Saturday and Sunday in the village based centre. There is another group of younger children who are being taught Gond Art a tribal art from of central India during every Saturday and Sunday in the same village.
In addition to education, they also have initiatives to empower the rural women financially.
I am an advocate of women being allowed to build careers, to work, earn and be financially independent. This goes a long way in boosting the woman’s self-confidence and elevating her position in her social circle. I was immediately able to identify with the Hand Embroidery initiative by Aham Bhumika
The Embroidery Project is an endeavor wherein a small group of rural women and girls are trained in hand embroidery art. These belong to the lowest income stratum of the community and have time on their hands after doing household chores. They do want to enroll their children in good schools but lack the financial capability to do so. Sometimes, they struggle to meet their basic needs and are dependent on their families. The earning members of such families often do not have a stable earning and work as daily wafers doing petty jobs. Aham Bhumika helps such women learn the art and allows them to work from home during their flexible hours. Aham Bhumika’s Embroidery Project aims to turn this severely under-resourced section of the society into a self- reliant one. Once taught, these women carry such skills with them to other places where they settle and teach on. The augmented earnings through embroidery and other skills taught have a direct bearing on their quality of living as well as affording better education and healthcare for themselves and their siblings. There are 25 artisans in this group and they are making effort to source regular work for them.
This earning-via-training project follows a plough-back principle – all profits earned from sales of embroidered work is re-invested to train more rural women and girls thus providing them a regular source of self-sustenance. From November 2014, Aham Bhumika has been selling these hand embroidered products. They have cushion covers, sling bags and even wall hangings. However, selling these products is a very tough task for them. Their main channels of sale are Twitter and Facebook.
In case you identify with this project, you can support them too by –
- Buying some of the products prepared by the women.
- Suggesting designs, especially if you are a designer or studying designing.
- If you are the owner of a boutique or apparel company, you may source work for them.
- You can also help us by spreading word about this project
I was approached by Aham Bhumika to spread awareness about their work and am doing so because I really feel for this cause. I feel that the work they are doing to educate the children and develop skilled artisans will go a long way in upliftment of these people. I am not being compensated by Aham Bhumika in any way for this post. If case you would like to get in touch with them, you could mail them at [email protected]. For those of you who do not know Hindi, Aham Bhumika means Important Role.