We know too well that when women team up, revolutions – hitherto formless, long suppressed, tucked protectively into throbbing chests – find form and occur, for us to see, believe, swallow and devour.
The rural region of Dhasa is home to women who have waited with talents, aspirations and skills in tow (some of these passed down generations), to be found and furthered.
These daughters of the soil have raised daughters, been daughters, reared whole families, served their flock, been dutiful to their respective homes and communities and earnestly assume and execute the roles of wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, homemaker and so on and so forth.
They have toiled all their lives – under the heat of a scorching sun, in green and barren fields – farming and shepherding cattle, amid fastblowing winds, sandstorms, duststorms, torrential rain, crisp winters and unexpected weather, in kitchens, before a stove or fireplace or even a bunch of burning wooden sticks – to build their lives, put food on the table, prepare it, feed their bellies and ensure their loved and living ones are perfectly cared for.
They have looked at their toil as sweet labour – one that comes instinctively and traditionally to them; one they simply have to do because that is the life they have been born to.
And then, there is a side to them that hasn’t been thrust upon them; a side that is entirely their own – a creative potential so true, it makes them unique and more themselves.
Project Dharti taps into this side.
With an aim to empower the women of Dhasa with a livelihood, it ferries their artistic creations, handicrafts and freshly prepared spices to those who have a genuine appreciation and use of them.
The profits find their way back to the women as income or pocket money – a financial independence that is so crucial for each one of us to have.
We watched the women of this Dharti sift and sort through tonnes and tonnes of fabric that they wish to eventually tailor into tote bags, cushion covers and a couple of other suggestions that samples were still being made of.
There was chatter, banter, cooperation, disagreement, debate, more and better analysis and an eventual arrangement of the schedules, roles and scope of work of each one.
We saw old ladies treated like chieftains by younger ones who had turned soldiers in this battle to give loose fabric purpose. Advice floated around like war strategy, with hands at the ready to handle their cloth armour and laughter filled the air like war cries.
Here were a bunch of women, surrounded by heaps and heaps of colour and design, with the vibrancy of warriors, ready to earn their chance at a better life and better living.
Dharti puts a smile where sweat and soil have left indelible impressions. And these, by far, are the most beautiful faces we’ve ever seen – purposed, glowing and grounded to their Dharti, yet looking up at the sky.
Inside of a village or otherwise, when women team up, the earth spins faster and soon enough, it rises to meet the ether.
(This piece belongs to a series on our network titled, “The Rural Dispatch”.)