By Shirshita Banerjee,
Global Links Participant, Kolkata (India)
It was an ordinary Sunday until I attended my first phone call of the day. Just like other days, I checked my phone as I woke up in the morning and saw a missed call from a neighbor. I was kind of concerned; the very first thing that appeared in my mind was, “Is there any emergency? Is everything alright?’’. With nervousness, I dialed the number. He picked up the phone, was delighted to get my call, and said “Your picture has been published in the Ananda Bazaar Patrika today”. There was an awkward pause while I thought if I heard him right. “See the page 20” he continued, “ I am so glad to see you there.” I hardly remember what he said after that. I was in a hurry to grab the paper. Gosh! It was me, along with a friend, holding a cup and smiling.
Isn’t it like a dream to be seen in the most popular newspaper of the city? My immediate thought went to the advertisement of this newspaper that was on every popular street crossing: the readership of 700,000 people!! My picture had reached so many people!!! After taking a deep breath I went to my parents and showed them the page. I wish if I could capture their reactions; their faces were glowing with joy. For me, this was a step closer to reach people with my message, the message that I always carried in my thoughts: women must be treated equal to men! And the vehicle that is driving my dream is the Global Links program: empowerment of women! And I was in that picture carried by the newspaper during one of my market networking activities as part of the GL program.
The theme of the GL program is Empowering Women Through Education & Entrepreneurship. Presently, 14 students from University of Calcutta are working with 14 different business entrepreneurs who are loanees of Bandhan Bank. It is an honour for me to be part of that team, being lead by the Global Links Scholar, Professor Sharmistha Banerjee.
The business I am working with is engaged in manufacturing of hand made leather dress shoes. In the course of my work, I identified the challenges of the business and set few targets myself to enable business expansion and consequent economic empowerment. In search of a more sustainable marketing network suitable for handmade products, I visited a couple of places. Kamala, run by the Crafts Council of India was one such stop. The Crafts Council of India (CCI) was founded in 1964 by Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay, the pioneer of the handicraft movement in India. CCI’s main thrust is providing marketing opportunities for artisans and assists them by providing marketing opportunities trough training and demonstration of technology, innovative designs and product diversification. I visited Kamala with my friend Priyanka, another Global Links Student Volunteer in pursuit of a marketing channel for my shoemaker.
Through out the day, I received so many phone calls and messages from my friends, relatives and teachers and everyone was curious to know about my work. I was so glad to receive a call from Dr. Banerjee congratulating me.
This is one of the best experiences in my Global Links journey till date. 10th July, 2016 will be a red letter day in my life.