Hamari Silai, based in the Ambedkarnagar slum in Mumbai, India, is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) targeted at empowering women from low-income communities. The founders, Maruti Chavan and Mohan Rathod, started this initiative to combat the issues they were witnessing in their very own community. Shocked by the domestic abuse, unemployment, poverty, and lack of respect that the women were facing, they founded Hamari Silai to make a tangible difference. By educating women on tailoring, savings management, family planning, reading, and writing they provide women with the skills to break away from societal norms and stand on their own two feet.
Despite the hindrances that the pandemic posed, our IBDP students have worked tirelessly to facilitate their endeavours.
A group of students and I recorded modules on classes for English, Hindi, and financial literacy to aid Stage 1 (education) of the Hamari Silai initiative. We researched and put together a digital workshop on how to stitch envelope pillowcases – a product they’ve been intending on adding. This helped Stage 2 of their module that teaches the women how to stitch various products and allows them to generate income for themselves. We conducted interviews with the women at Hamari Silai and wrote a blog post that we posted on social media to increase awareness about the initiative. We also planned sessions on mental and physical health by organising digital workshops on yoga and mindfulness to help the women cope with their struggles. Lastly, I’m working with another student to code and design a website to promote the initiative to help them make a difference on a larger scale.
All these activities were part of the IB core of CAS. It assisted us in our personal growth as well as our interpersonal skills as we collaborated with other students towards a singular aim. It provided us with a greater understanding of our community and serves as a good balance against the academically rigorous programme that is the IB. At the primary stages of our involvement with Hamari Silai, we were still under the restrictions of the pandemic. Therefore, our problem-solving skills and decision-making skills were honed as we thought of new and innovative ways to make an impact while ensuring that they’re still as effective.
Furthermore, following the IB mission, Hamari Silai has been involved with several interdisciplinary sessions with our subjects. For example, Maruti and Mohan visited us during our French B class to share their journey with us. We connected it to the theme of ‘Partage de La Planete’ (Sharing the Planet) and had meaningful discussions about society, human rights, and equality.
Working closely with Hamari Silai has been eye-opening for us. While fabric is the building blocks of their stitching initiative, working with them through IB CAS has made us more involved with the fabric of our own society.
Malvika Mehta is a student in her second year at IB. She has always been passionate about community service and volunteering and values the ability to make a tangible difference and give back to society. Since these are the concepts and values that lie at the core of the IB, she has greatly enjoyed her volunteering journey, notably, her two-year collaboration with Hamari Silai. Through the activities and programs with this NGO, she attempted to merge her wide-ranging passions like finance and even mental health to work collaboratively and become more internationally minded while working at a community level.