By David Porter, second year Pearson Business School student
We started our trip by meeting Apoorva and Shweta, our project partners at No Nasties in Mumbai and then flew with them to Nagpur on Friday evening. After our first taste of real Indian food at dinner, we discussed the project in detail and what we wanted to achieve from the next few days with Chetana Vikas and the women.
Our first day here has been absolutely incredible - it has been so good to finally meet with the women we’re supporting through Once Upon a Doug, and hear their stories first hand. What’s really inspired me is that despite the hardships and barriers that they continue to face in their communities on a daily basis; they’re able to remain strong and take positive steps to improve their future. The courage that this takes was really apparent when they were telling their individual stories, and it was enlightening to see the women so empowered through the project, and other initiatives that they’re involved in through Chetana Vikas.
What was also really nice was the strong sense of mutual trust, an inherent part of the project since the start, which was key to creating a welcoming family atmosphere. It allowed the women to really open up to us; you could visibly see how much of a difference Once Upon a Doug is already having in their lives.
As well as exchanging stories and letting them know about the progress we’ve made this year, we all sat down with one of the women to make our own Doug* (with some turning out much better than others, without naming any names!). This was a really great way to connect with the women on a one-to-one level, whilst also being a lot of fun! In addition, it helped give us a complete understanding of exactly how each Doug* is made from start-to-finish. I will definitely be needing a lot more practice to get anywhere near the standard required though!
After making our Dougs*, we played some games together outside (which were great fun!), and spent time talking to the women in more detail about the socio-economic issues that they face in the different communities that they live in. We finished the day by sharing a traditional dinner with them and returned back to the hotel around 10pm. It’s been a long day, but we’re all looking forward to tomorrow!
Reflecting on our first full day in India: I have loved being completely immersed in such a diverse and colourful culture. Meeting with the women was really special, and has given us so much inspiration and motivation to spread their stories through Doug. Hopefully we can take this inspiration to make the project a success, and continue to support and empower more women.
Lastly, I’m really looking forward to the rest of our time in India!
* The name “Doug” is derived from the Indian (Marathi) word for cloud, “Dhug”.
Doug is a symbol; a story; a cloud shaped fashion accessory!
These clouds are hand-made by women cotton farmers in India who earn supplemental income from this work. Doug is their hero. Doug is the hero of our story.
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