Friday, March 30, 2018

Reflection.... culturally sensitive charity

What is culturally sensitive charity? And how do I feel about introducing new ideas into an old culture? Why is charity, or more to the point, fund-raising even going to make a difference?

I'm  pondering these questions, and many others, as I am preparing to go back to India, where I have been volunteering for the past 12 years. Each trip, (every 2 or so years), I am challenged with the same questions.... is what I'm  doing making a difference to one girl or one women's life? And how will my interaction with this community change them, either positively or not?
I am without a doubt, changed by my visits and interactions. But it shouldn't stop with me. I am interested in social changes.

This trip my travelling partner had hoped to have more indepth conversations with the NGO directors about a sustainable & fairtrade business model.  The idea being that by providing local women with sewing & tailoring instruction, and providing new patterns and ideas for products appealing to western women, an online market could be established. We feel excited and believe the unique opportunity lies in the beautiful south Indian sarees and textiles.  Yet, as we have been preparing, we've been challenged by our own thoughts.

Is the business going to be profitable? What are the costs of establishing this in India? Will Etsy be the right platform for these transactions, if English is not the local womens first language? What about the customers expectations? How difficult will it be to help the women of and isolated rural district understand the desires of the identified customer base? Will,our three week visit be adequate or just a start?

The big picture and dream, is that through selling beautiful handmade creations to western women, the NGO will be able to firstly provide a fair pay to their craftspeople, and make extra funds to support their girls hostel and education program.

While I believe these ideas are well intentioned, I am concerned that it's our vision not theirs... and that first principle of our practice should be of empowerment. I am hoping we can raise the ideas in a respectful manner and find out if there's some way we can work with the NGO to achieve something sustainable.

Bags commissioned for a womens conference in Sydney were loved by participants. 

Here's a link to our GoFundMe crowdfunding site.... All Welcome

Saturday, March 10, 2018

French Film Festival Sydney

I love french films - I love the way the French make films - I love learning things about the French people through their films... So for many years now I've been going to Sydney to see french films at the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival. This year its running pretty much all of March - soo many movies to choose from.. So I thought I'd mention the first three I have seen - and have enjoyed.

1. The most challenging and also the best movie I've seen so far was 'Beats per Minute' (in english) or 120 Battements par Minute. It's set in Paris, and the members of the advocacy group ACT UP are demanding action by the Government and Pharmaceutical companies to fight the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s. I was a young  graduate during that era, and this movie has really changed by understanding of the world back then. I would definitely watch this one again. here's a link to the short.

2. Back to Burgundy, set in Burgundy (haha), is a lovely story of adult siblings returning to their family vineyard when Dad dies. They love their vines and their wine but their adults lives have taken them to different places, and staying on the land isn't the only choice they have to make.

3. C'est La Vie was the premiere film of this years festival - and it made us laugh and giggle. It was about Max, a seasoned wedding event organiser and caterer. Today, it’s all hands on deck for Pierre and Héléna’s nuptials in a breathtaking 17th century French chateau.  As per usual, Max has everything precisely organised but, as the celebrations get underway, Murphy’s Law takes over.  we were sitting on the edge of our seats as Max and his team pull together to make Pierre and Héléna’s special day memorable for all the right reasons. 

My thoughts so far -  still love french cinema. I have two more weeks to fit in a few more movies, and I hope to see at least another 5.... I'll be overdosed by the end of the month. If you care to see what's on this season, check it out here.