My internet has sadly been so slow that doing anything with it seems to take hours. Which is really unfortunate when considering my internship.
First of all, my internship is going really well. I think Sadhna is a legitimate organization that just needs help with marketing. I have been working in one of their shops. The shop is fairly small but houses a large sum of their product on the first two floors, the top floor is a work room for the artisans.
My job is to help the shop grow, this includes teaching the two shopkeepers English, organizing the store so it is more inviting, helping to draw in customers and lastly to talk and research customers about what they do and don't like about Sadhna, how they feel about the styles, products and suggestions for boutiques to call.
The feedback has been really helpful and I think it will be really beneficial to the organization... that is if they take my advice. The number one problem I am having with my internship is being taken seriously, or maybe just not getting any attention.
India is notorious for being too busy for you. That is if you have something you want to help with, they are too busy to have you help them. If you want to know what to do, they are too busy doing something you could do to help.
They are so unorganized that they don't know what you should do, until you do it. But then once you finish your project they want you to redo it after they thought of it with their spin on it.
An example of this... Lydia and I are told to check in once a week with our internship and other wise everything is on our own.... 4 days later... they tell us that there is a staff that is in charge of marketing... that is after we wrote a marketing letter, decided to make a catalog, researched a list of companies and talked about how this was all going to fall in place...
The marketing staff then wanted us to look at the letter he had already written, the catalog idea was thrown out, the company list was thrown out and we started over...
Not only that but the marketing Indian staff is going to an exhibition in New Dehli where they will try to sell Sadhna's products to US citizens...are we invited to help? NO... however we are asked what to bring to the show, so they know what looks western.... but when we give our suggestions he doesn't like the products we choose, they are his least favorites.
OF COURSE THEY ARE, Indian style is not western style...
It is these moments that you learn to bite your tongue, go with the flow and think to yourself "WHY AM I HERE?"
But then you just take a deep breath and remember that it will all fit into place.
My life here is like a puzzle. I know all the pieces are there and it will eventually show a larger picture.
I just need to remember that eventually they are all going to fit together in the right way, it just takes patience, concentration and the right state of mind...
Every once in a while the frustration is overwhelming... the culture being so different.
But then it all fits together and the big picture is like a freaking firework going off in your body as you realize you actually accomplished something difficult but so beautiful. YOU DID SOMETHING SO GREAT!
I am putting those pieces together, there are amazing moments like today....
Everyday I go to the shop for eight hours... that is 7 days a week I work for 8 hours a day. I sit at the front desk with the two women who barely speak English and talk to them all day. It is supposed to help them practice their English and learn more about Western culture. It is also beneficial for me because I basically interview two women all day who live in poverty and are being uplifted by a business model I want to run.
The first day was somewhat boring/...
What is your name? Where do you live? How old are you? Do you like this color? Do you like this korta? Where do you study? Do you like Udaipur? Do you like Sadhna?
But the second day was a total flip...
Do you like working here? Did you have an arranged marriage? Do you eat this food? Do you have a boyfriend? What do you do in your free time?
Talk to the customer like this...
Change this, Change that....
What was your wedding night like with your husband you never met? How do you feel living in a slum? What do you really think of Sadhna? Do you think you are treated and paid fairly? What do you fantasize about in the USA? Do you believe in God? What are your biggest fears in life? ETC
I basically made two friends who want to know everything about USA and I want to learn everything about the culture of India. They talked about some of their most intimate moments of their lives today.
Not only that but I get to observe the women's efficiency working there, the types of customers that come into Sadhna and so much more.
Today I formed a list of things that tomorrow I will demand from the NGO that runs Sadhna. It seems as though the two women who work in the store are too shy to ask for anything, are hardly able to communicate with their managers to ask for the things they need and their pay relys on it. The more these women sell the better the pay... But they sell out of things and then don't get restock until much later and therefore miss out on potential sales. The environment of the store could be much more welcoming with a hint of music, a splash of color on the walls, updated materials to handout, the dead lightbulbs replaced, and the cash register fixed. These small things can make a huge difference to westerners.
A customer needs to feel like they want to be in the store, currently the stores silence, inability to give the right sizes of products due to not restocking the shelves, and their lack of decoration makes the store seem cold and unwelcoming.
Sadhna has so much potential but they seem to be on a total stand still...
Sadhna started in 1988 with only 15 women, the organization started as an income generation project for village, slum and tribal women and now is much more. Sadhna provides scholarships, health care, child care, eye check ups, pension plans for widows and retirement, so much more. Now it helps almost 700 women artisans and is continuously growing in sales.
It is proven itself as a self-sustaining reliable handicraft enterprise.
This is what I one day want to create. A handicraft social business that provides services for women that they otherwise would not be able to receive.
The whole process is such an amazing learning experience and I have loved getting to know the business and the women. I look forward to hearing them speak fluent English by the end of the 45 days. The smiles on their faces when they see me every morning at 10 is so motivating.
The women are so friendly, they are always offering to buy me tea even though their monthly income is less than I make in a day making minimum wage. They are always buying cookies and offering me some, pieces of their lunch, showering me with compliments, opening their lives up to me and always willing to learn.
I am really lucky to have met these two ladies and today when they told me their salaries it took everything for me to hold back from crying.
One of the women hasn't had a single day off in... 5 years... not one day. She works 8 hours a day 7 days a week. Making less in a month then a days work at minimum wage for an American. They are yet the happiest women, never complaining.
They smile and giggle while we eat lunch together on the floor of the shop with our fingers. The women are so dedicated.
Both women wake up at 5am everyday to start breakfast to serve for their bean (hubby) and beta (children) and cook lunch for their tiffins (lunch box). They then clean up the cooking mess, clean up their homes, shower come to work until 7 and then work on their handicrafts at home in their free time while also preparing dinner for their family possibly having to stop at the market, and putting their children to bed.
One of the women has an hour auto ride to and from work.... which makes her work day alone 10 hrs
All in a days work they say.
I ride with Laxmi, one of the workers, on her motorbike to and from work. It's an amazing ride... no helmet wind in your hair, winding through the traffic speeding through the tiny streets of the old city. At night it is even more amazing as the dust of the day has settled and the shops glow in the night.
Its hard talking to these women and then coming home to the haveli I am currently staying in...
My home stay is going really well and I am loving having my privacy... that is when I am actually home... which is almost never. :P