HIGHLIGHT ON MERCY IMONDI of the MAHALIR ARAN TRUST and the FLOWERING DESERT PROJECT in rural Southern India.
To celebrate International Women’s Day we wanted to highlight the work of Mercy Imondi of the Mahalir Aran Trust in Southern India.
Mahalir Aran meaning "Women's Fortress,” offers a safe home to over 100 vulnerable women and children, along with food, healthcare, education, plus training and employment opportunities.
The trust is situated in 40 acres of land and includes a farm, living accommodation, a vocational training centre and a medical centre, which serves not only the residents but also the local community. At the heart of this is the Flowering Desert jewellery project.
Fair Trade supplier Just Trade started working with Mercy and the ladies of the Flowering Desert project in 2010. The women were provided with training and introduced to basic jewellery making techniques using mainly hand tools, including beading, cutting, polishing and hammering.
The women are able to work in a fair, safe and supportive environment. They work a shorter day, which allows them to care for their children and they can access counselling, healthcare and financial advice. They can afford to send their children to school. They work alongside women from the local community where the main means of employment is agricultural, often poorly paid and unpredictable.
The work at Flowering Desert gives these women a means to increase their skills and future work possibilities, it helps them heal from trauma and gives them status in society for the first time. Since the initial Just Trade training programme with six women in 2010, another twenty women have been trained in order to keep up with the orders. This is the real, tangible benefit of shopping fair trade.
Thanks also to Laura and the whole team at Just Trade UK.