July 24, 2011

[Experiences] The Bridge Between...

Life's jigsaws are pretty quirky. Here a piece, there a piece but at moments when you discover the connects, something magical happens. This is about all those interwoven web of connections that I could see in a momentous moment.

The event was the confluence of women from the polar ends of the world. On the one hand, you have Hillary Clinton - First Lady, Senator, Presidential Runner-up and now, Secretary of State of a very powerful nation. A dynamic symbol of power and fortune. On the other hand, you have 400 women, who don't have a list of posts or power. But they have taken the mantle of their families in their hands. From dire poverty and helplessness, they have empowered themselves to be working women. Moving symbols of hope and courage. Although languages differ, cultures differ, both the speaker and the audience, were connected by the fact that they were both women and working women, at that.

From July 2011

An entrepreneur came on stage to tell her story to Ms. Hillary Clinton. She spoke on the many facets of the working woman - Leaving their young children at home, opposition from family and the benefits of belonging in a group. Her words illustrated the power of independence, the possibilities of a woman who takes charge of her family. She dwelled on the fact of how there was vehement opposition from her husband when starting out on this initiative and now she does not depend on him, be it to marry off her daughters or give them a full education. Just made me think about husbands, on one end, blocking and preventing a woman's growth and of husbands, as in my case, who encourage, push them forward, make them reach for things that even the woman can't see.

The Secretary spoke on the power of self-help movements that has changed the lives of women all around the world. She promised 'more help' for 'self-help'. Marketing training programmes, political management course for Panchayat leaders were some of the many weapons, she sold to these women. The powerful weapons of education, that can change the lives of many. She also spoke about the problems faced by women cooking on unclean stoves and ways of converting the sale of clean cookstoves as a business opportunity for these women. She praised them, applauded them for the great example they were setting for their sons and daughters. It was a true honor to capture the essence of her words and relay to the audience. I was truly touched when after the Secretary had long gone, these women continued to come to me and say they loved the way I relayed the message to them. My education, my skills have truly found a purpose if I succeeded in touching the hearts of these struggling women with the message of one truly empowered woman.

From July 2011

My personal weapon of education, I received from my father, who wrote my school oratorical speeches from the age of 5. He planted the seed of communicating well, beyond barriers and without concern for the status of the listener. When growing up, I have seen him speak both to people in high positions and to people working on the fields, with the same ease and clarity. It is only because of this something that he left in me, I was able to face this stressful situation with a simple philosophy, "However powerful, Madame Clinton is also a woman and a human being, sharing this planet with me". My father who taught me to speak was there, but a brief time in my life, having passed away when I was 11. But he changed it forever with the many skills and attitudes he gave me. I wish every father in India and the world believes in the greatness of his daughter and gives the most beautiful gift of all, not jewels, not money but a meaningful education.

In my little capacity as the interpreter, I was fortunate, very fortunate to be in this gathering, linking this great woman on stage to that great woman on ground. One, making a difference to her home called world and another making a difference to her world called home!