“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela
Anchal often discusses the role of design as the vehicle for social change. However, we also recognize the great importance of education to facilitate and maintain personal growth. Ultimately, we believe they should go hand in hand. One of Anchal’s primary goals is to provide the artisans educational opportunities, in addition to an alternative design career.
Many of our artisans are illiterate and were often forced to drop out of school at a very young age. I quickly learned the limits of the artisans’ educations while conducting one of our first workshops in Kolkata. We were creating collages that day based on local imagery. The women were beginning to understand that they had the ability to draw more than a house and a sun; they could create beautiful artwork. At the end of the exercise the women began holding up their pieces. Devon and I were thrilled to see the joy of accomplishment in their faces. However, we noticed a change once asked to write their name on the back.
I came to realize that several women could not even write their own name without assistance. It is amazing what we can take for granted. In the United States, education is given to girls and we are encouraged to succeed. This is not always the case around the world. A girl’s education is seen as unnecessary, especially in impoverished families.
It is now two years later and not only are the women writing their names, they are stitching them into each quilt. What a powerful statement!
As we begin to grow and sales increase, Anchal is able to expand its educational workshops. Currently, the women are offered monthly training in a variety of subjects including communication (reading & writing), holistic healing, women’s rights, team building, entrepreneurship, stress management, financial planning and more!
Here are a few of my favorite tips from a lesson on Setting Priorities in Life. I know I could certainly use a reminder.
-Do things that constantly reinforce self-belief and prove to your own mind that you’re capable.
– Take small steps, look for little victories, and allow those wins to spur you on to do more and achieve more.
-Create and maintain a great environment in which to live, with love and laughter.
We have featured two of the workshops on leadership, here and here. Anchal’s long-term goal is to offer these programs and classes weekly to ensure real knowledge is instilled to the women and their families. Funding from Dining For Women next year will help expand our current educational programming but you can help us reach our goals sooner by making a donation here. You can even contribute to a scholarship fund for the children of the artisans. It only costs $10 a month to send a child to private secondary school!
Otherwise unattainable, Anchal is providing the skills, information, and confidence to the artisans which allows for physical, emotional, and financial independence.