There have been many new developments in the work we are doing and we are currently involved in many initiatives all over South Asia. In the next few months we will use the blog to highlight many of these projects and include detailed information about each initiative.
The Lotus Center is open! We officially opened the doors of the Lotus Center, our official south Indian headquarters, long-term volunteer base, disaster preparedness and readiness space, and women’s empowerment center. We are now using the space to apprentice two local women in beading with a professional jewelry maker, and sewing with a local tailor. We plan to have two more women joining us within the month and we will continue to assess this exciting program as it evolves.
The Khusi Hona vision for creating a women’s empowerment space within the Lotus Center is based on the foundation of building confidence, fostering initiative, and creating true empowerment for local women.
Skilled mentors at the center work with women to develop skills in a non-formal educational setting. Without creating dependency, but rather fostering independence, this will create the opportunity to use this work as a launching pad to realizing their own visions and goals through the creation of micro-businesses, more formalized education, and/or other future endeavors of their choosing. The goods produced will be bought from the artists at a fair price, and then sold to private business entities, sold directly on Khusi Hona e-commerce, and at various events.
Karri Elizabeth Cole, from Virginia, USA, has been mentoring the first two apprentices on beading and jewelry making. Karri makes her own jewelry and is not only skilled at bead work but also has a gentle and effective teaching style that creates a comfortable and safe learning environment. Below is a short interview with Karri about her experience as she works with us on the development of this exciting program:
Khusi Hona (KH): How has it been as you have launched this exciting mentoring program? What are your first impressions?
Karri Elizabeth Cole (KEC): My first impression is excitement! This is a space of wonder and creation and as they [the apprentices] become confident, I become more confident as a teacher. This is being on the cusp of something growing, like flowers. We are helping them to grow by nurturing them and providing what they need while also letting them grow in their own ways.
I didn’t have expectations coming in. I knew I would be creating with them and this is teaching me how to teach more effectively. Everyone has a different learning style and I am getting to know them and how they learn best. I have to constantly reflect on my mentoring as I work with them.
KH: What have been some of the most positive experiences you have had so far?
KEC: Traveling to buy the materials and source the stones in Jaipur was a lovely learning experience. Everyone we worked with was so positive about the center’s concept and we really were able to witness the amazing work the stone producers are doing. Then, meeting the girls has been wonderful.They are young, bright, full of life, like seedlings, and it is amazing to be able to nurture them in their work and in their lives. I feel even more passionate about this project now than at the beginning. Everything has exceeded my expectations- even just in the first week of of operation.
KH: What has been challenging for you?
KEC: It’s hard for me to just allow the apprentices to make their own mistakes and learn how to fix them instead of fixing them myself. This is my work! I am also being conscious to give equal praise [to the two girls] but also fostering leadership in the women who are able to go to the next level. The balance of being encouraging enough but not giving false praise can be difficult. But, this also builds true confidence rather than false confidence. Communication can also be frustrating sometimes because we are coming from a different place and we have to build trust. I am an outgoing and assertive person. These are girls who are not used to being assertive or showing their confidence and I have to respect where they are coming from and who they are. We all have different personalities. Some of this is cultural. We are all learning!
KH: What else would you like to share?
KEC: I am so honored for the opportunity to be here, to work with the girls, and to combine what I am passionate about and help these women in turn. We are now a team and this is our home and I am thankful to be a part of it!
KH: Thank you so much for sharing your experience and expertise with this program. It is great
to have you on our team!
We also have a tailor beginning to work with these women on basic sewing skills and fabric arts. He will teach them basic skills using two different sewing machines and a serger. As the women become more adept with these skills, they will begin to work with us in designing and creating clothing, bags and other garments.
Thanks to everyone who has supported The Lotus Center! We hope you will continue to support us in all of our programs and initiatives by sharing our website and social media with family and friends, volunteering to join us in South Asia, or donating directly to Khusi Hona-100% of all donations go directly to program and initiatives. Small donations add up to a big impact and we couldn’t do it without your support!
Stay tuned for our next post which will focus on our relief work in Nepal as we begin the process of working with local organizations to rebuild the fish farm in the village of Manekharka.