“India…. If someone in India asks me what I think of India and especially what I think of its people – because they are always very curious to know about that – I always say with a big smile: “India is my second motherland”. Folded hands and an even bigger smile are always the answer of the person I am talking to.
India was not new to me when I came to live here with Jasper at the end of 2016. We have traveled around the country for a number of times and when the opportunity came for Jasper to work in India for a longer period for KPN, we didn’t have to think about it twice to decide we’d move to India. But traveling around a country is completely different than living in that country.
Soon after I came to live in India, I became involved with Women on Wings as one of its volunteer experts. The search for ideas and creating possibilities for beautiful handmade products that I came across got a permanent place in my mind. India gives and teaches me so much. It is nice to be able to give something back, especially for people for whom good luck is not always there for the taking.
I can stay very close to my work as a designer to bring change to families in rural India. I have seen women – especially in rural areas – make great products. Handmade with a lot of love, but not always suitable for Western markets. And this is where I can bring my expertise.
By now I can say that things in India are gaining momentum. Building a network in a new country with a different culture takes time, surely. But at the same time I experience that I have built an intense bond with special people from all over the world in a relatively short time. While working on Women on Wings’ assignments I have witnessed that a relatively small but extra income, can make a big difference in the daily quality of life of rural people. It buys a light in the house, better and more nutritious food and also the extra income sends children to school, well-groomed like any Dutch child that goes to school.
I will continue energetically to share my knowledge with the Women on Wings partners. In a next blog I shall be sharing more about all that I am working on with social enterprises that create jobs for women in rural India. We are working on some exciting developments!
To be continued…”
Marie-Gon is a Dutch volunteer expert at Women on Wings. Since end of 2016 she lives in Pune, India. She regularly works with Women on Wings’ business partners on product development. About these visits, Marie-Gon writes blogs for the Women on Wings community.