Our organization consists of three coordinating parts: MarketPlace: Handwork of India, SHARE, and the independent artisan cooperatives. MarketPlace is a nonprofit organization registered in the U.S. which focuses on business aspects, such as marketing and design. The artisans, of course, are the heart and soul of it all, women determined to improve their lives and their families' future. Tying it all together is SHARE, a public charitable trust registered in India which oversees the artisans' professional and personal development.
The SHARE staff members in Mumbai work with the women to develop programs to address issues and obstacles facing the women. Sometimes informative sessions have educated the women on such topics as health, women's legal rights, and bank accounts. Psychological counseling has been made available.
Different programs have expanded the women's horizons and given them the chance to explore and grow. The Darpan program answers the artisans' desire to learn. Under its auspices the cooperatives started newspaper-reading sessions. Articles are shared and discussed as the women learn about the world and express their opinions. Yoga classes began to alleviate stress and promote good health.
The Social Action program gives women the opportunity to become agents of change and leaders in their community. They have put on street plays to draw attention to domestic violence, demonstrated for improved sanitation and city services, and motivated their neighbors to join them in recycling and anti-pollution measures.
The Armaan Club was set up because the women are very concerned about their children's education and future success. The Club provides academic and social support as well as access to recreational and creative outlets. Activities teach them about responsible behavior and good choices. All these activities help the artisans increase their self-respect and confidence, giving them the power to make lasting change at many levels.