My 13 month State Bank Of India fellowship wasn’t as smooth sailing as I thought in the beginning. I was taking over an existing fellows project which was based on animal feed (mineral mixture and salt bricks). Though salt bricks was a straight forward process, mineral mixture was a little complicated where one had to mix nine minerals in a predetermined percentage (just like bathing bars). After my predecessor left, I was tasked with working with the local NGO to take this forward. However, due to very conflicting ideas and methods, I decided not to carry on with the project and being my fellowship, I decided to work on a few of my ideas.
Thus began the precursor to our bathing bar .
The Women of Udaypur Goan always eager to try new things, began deliberating a plan of action for a start-up. I came across Sanjories (a sweet meat, with coconut filling in a patty) and sell it at the local market. A little skeptical at first but with nothing to loose they complied. I invested ₹500, ingredients were sourced and work began. It was an evening to behold. A gathering of families where stories and laughs took center stage.
The Ghatakhedi market, a Thursday market that saw hawkers, butchers, vegetable sellers, medicine men etc all gather at the local Mandi (market place). Four women, their children and I set up shop in the morning. Many comments were passed and many stern gazes were met but we were not dithered as were determined to sell our product.
A plate consisted of one papad (poppadom), four sanjories and a little mixture. We made 300 packets priced at ₹ 5. As the day wore on, one moment that really stood out was when a passerby sneered and passed a cruel comment which was met with the line,”hum yaha chori to nahi kar rahee hai, imandari se kam kar rahe hai”.(We have not come here to steal, we are working honestly).
How can anyone peg these women back!
By the afternoon, we had sold 5 packets and the rest was distributed in the village. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Why you ask?Rural India is not about giving up. Rural India is about hope, optimism and a journey.
Rural India is the heart of India.