CraftHER LiA - Week 1 Recap

Here is a recap and some reflections about my first week on the CraftHER LiA project in India
CraftHER LiA - Week 1 Recap

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On Monday, 24th June, after a LONG journey filled with flight changes, delays, and long layovers, I finally landed in Cochin, Kerala, for my Central Leadership in Action project, CraftHER. The project was founded by @Asha Scaria Vettoor , the CEO of Swara – Voice of Women, an ethical fashion brand based in India. The CraftHER project is focused on women artisans in the craft sector in India. Our cohort is made up of six scholars from four universities. We are spending our six-week project travelling around Kerala, India, working with different partner organisations. 

The CraftHER cohort! (Pictured from left to right: Megan, me, Ellie, Yoshino, Lucia, and Grace).

After two days of induction and getting to know the lovely project cohort (and recovering from jet lag), we started working with our first partner organisation, Save the Loom. Save the Loom works to preserve and uplift the craft of traditional handloom textiles following the 2018 Kerala floods. On our first day with them, we travelled to their store for their affiliated brand, 108, in Fort Kochi, where we heard background about Save the Loom and the craft of weaving in India. This relevant background information was a great introduction to Save the Loom and the craft sector in India as a whole.

On our second day with Save the Loom, we visited weaving co-ops. First, we saw the yarn-dying process. I was fascinated by this process, especially the chemistry behind the colour-mixing process.

Drying yarn after dying

Then we visited some sites where women weavers skilfully create beautiful traditional textiles on handlooms. I was in awe of their skill and strength because working with the handloom requires intense coordination of the entire body and mind. They also weave in the heat and humidity without any fans or air conditioning because these would pose a risk because of the dust created by the yarn. Hearing their stories was powerful. It is difficult to describe how profound an experience it was to meet these remarkable women. I am so grateful to these women for welcoming us and sharing about their lives. 

Listening to the stories of these women weavers put the background we had learned about Save the Loom into context. We built on what we learnt to create social media recommendations for Save the Loom, showcasing the value of hands-on experiences and learning in leadership. Our work with Save the Loom was our first time working together as a project cohort, so it was fun to discover how we worked together and each of our strengths. On our last day at Save the Loom, we presented our social media recommendations to the Save the Loom team members. After an unforgettable first week, we left Cochin for Thiruvananthapuram, travelling by train to start our next week working with our next partner organisation, SEWA – but more on that later. 

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Go to the profile of Megan Shaw
15 days ago

What a fab first week!

Go to the profile of Asha Scaria Vettoor
13 days ago

I agree, 100%

Go to the profile of Asha Scaria Vettoor
13 days ago

Thank you so much for sharing, Lily! What a beautiful way to summarise your first week at CraftHER!