CraftHER LiA - Week 2 Recap

Here is a recap and some reflections about week 2 of the CraftHER LiA
CraftHER LiA - Week 2 Recap
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For my Leadership in Action Project, I am on the Central project, CraftHER by Swara—Voice of Women, founded by @Asha Scaria Vettoor. Located in Kerala, India, the project is centred around traditional Indian handicrafts in a variety of trades and the amplification of the talented women artisans in these spaces. The cohort is made up of six scholars. We are travelling around Kerala and working with different partner organisations. 

In our second week, we travelled by train from Cochin to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, to work with our second partner organisation, SEWA Kerala (Self Employed Women’s Association). SEWA is a central women’s only trade union for informal workers across most states in India, connecting women across a variety of trades, including handicrafts. While working with SEWA Kerala, we stayed at the SEWA Rural Centre outside of Thiruvananthapuram in the hills and forest designed by architect Laurie Baker. The forest environment contrasted with the hustle and bustle of the Cochin urban environment from the previous week. 

On our first day, we spoke to Nalini Nayak, the founder of SEWA Kerala, and got to know some SEWA members. We heard about the important work they do advocating for, connecting, and organising women workers in Kerala. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity. 

On Tuesday, we visited two of SEWA’s Federation of Reed Workers units, run entirely by women (all SEWA members). These talented women artisans use traditional bamboo and reed weaving to create stunning traditional and innovative handicrafts. We had the unique opportunity to learn bamboo and reed weaving from these women artisans. Getting to know these incredible women and hearing their stories was a truly inspiring experience. We were in awe of their artistry, passion, and creativity!

On Wednesday, we toured the paper-making unit at the SEWA Kerala Rural Centre. We learned how the unit makes handmade paper by recycling textiles and paper. They use handmade paper to create beautiful paper crafts, showcasing the possibilities of recycling. We worked on creating a brochure showcasing the beautiful paper products made by the unit, which we presented to Nalini in the afternoon. 

On Thursday, we visited a pottery society where we met incredibly talented potters who are SEWA members. Later that afternoon, we had a session with Nalini, discussing our project with SEWA and feminism. It was really impactful learning about how Nalini developed her feminist beliefs and talking to her about first-wave feminism and our own feminist beliefs. This conversation will stick with me for the rest of my life. We were also joined by some monkey visitors on Thursday during our morning yoga and again in the afternoon, which brought some laughter into our day!

Finally, on Friday, we presented and collaborated with SEWA Kerala on the projects we had been putting together throughout the week. Ellie and I worked on creating a social media plan for the launch and initial posts for a SEWA Kerala Instagram page (@sewa.kerala). We designed posts and graphics to launch the Instagram page. After collaborating on the post content with the SEWA team, we helped them launch their Instagram page. It was exciting to launch an Instagram page with them and collaborate with them about how their mission and incredibly impactful work can be shared in the social media space. I learned so much with SEWA Kerala this week. It was an unforgettable, profound experience filled with so much learning and growth. 

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Go to the profile of Megan Shaw
13 days ago

Such an insightful week, with the added bonus of seeing monkeys!

Go to the profile of Lucia Laffan
13 days ago

Having such an amazing time! 

Go to the profile of Asha Scaria Vettoor
13 days ago

The photos are just fab, Lily! Thank you for sharing your experience :)