Today is my first official day as the manager of the center that employs the women from the rural village. The manager left yesterday after a three year stay in the village and said goodbye to those she had grown to call family. Among the tears and well wishes that I could not understand (because of the language barrier), there was happiness for the future. Radhika will be missed by all the women who have grown accustomed to seeing her everyday, but they all know she will be going to do great things in life.
As for me, I just wish I could communicate with the women. It is quite hard to sit there all day and not be able to understand or speak to anyone. This I will have to get used to fast or learn Hindi at an unprecedented speed. I am starting to learn a bit but it is not fast enough being that I am the now the only person managing the center. The business side is my specialty and I believe I can help in many ways that the previous manager was not equipped to because she was a creative mind. I will not be able to replace her in any way, and all I can hope for the next few months is that I am able to further the progress of this program and community and help them for the future.
I have already started working on Fair Trade Certification, which costs more money than they can afford currently, but I will try to get a grant from the Foundation for Sustainable Development. This will hopefully open doors in selling products. I have also reached out to my alma mater, Belmont University, and the program I used to be a part of, SIFE. Being that they specialize in this type of non-profit help, I am hoping to have the students help me with marketing in the Nashville area to secure orders for the crafts center. This would ensure a flow of money to support the program in a way that has not been available. Currently, there are few buyers outside of the tourists that stop by hotel to stay for a night or two, and not every tourist buys the products. Other than securing orders, there is much for me to do to help develop this community and center. I am going to help with the business at the hotel, and the solar project in the village once the donors have set up the equipment and trained the women. There has also been talk of a government greenhouse that would ensure a village to have enough food for themselves and to sell. This will require much research and funding, however, but I hope I can help to start this initiative as well.