Poorani is one of the women participating in the WELL workshop. She is from Alankuppam and heard about WELL through the women group in her village. She has been in contact with Village Action Group some time.
Poorani was not directly affected by the tsunami because her house is further away from the beach. Her relatives had a lot of damage in their houses and stayed with her for some time. Poorani has two little girls of 2 and 4 years. Her husband works in a leather workshop that is related to Auroville.
In November 2005 Poorani and eight other women from the villages surrounding Auroville started the first WELL workshop, that will last 6 months. The women are trained by Orly and Danny, the project holders, but for Poorani it is more like they all develop the products together. The women are not just employees that have to fulfill a certain schedule - they all share their ideas and experiment together with Orly and Danny. Every morning Raji, a Tamil Aurovillian, joins them in their meeting and translates. They talk about the work, find solutions for production problems and share their ideas for the product design.
The women are trained to choose and sort papers, make paper maché pulp, roll paper into long sticks that are used to weave baskets and paint the finished products. Wonderful is that they have creative days when they can experiment with the material, develop better ways to work and create their own designs.
When we asked Poorani, what else she learns in her workshop, she says “I learn English, in the daily conversation with Danny, Orly and Raji and we also have English lessons in the afternoon”. Danny teaches the women about product calculation and how to plan making a bulk of products. With all this, the women are enabled to one day be independent and start their own business.
The atmosphere in the workshop is very friendly and happy. The women get along well and want to continue working together in the future. They find that they work well together and that they share the same ideas and goals.
After finishing the workshop the ladies want to find a workshop in their village and start to take orders from WELL. They want to go on developing the product, add even different products and train other women. They want to share their experience and ask other women to produce the paper rolls at home and get paid for that. Slowly they will build up their own business. Many other women will profit from WELL – Women E mpowered by L ocal L ivelihood.