A past volunteer at Belaku speaks..

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IMG_7832My name is Stephanie Westcott, I’m a designer/artist/crafts person, originally from Sydney. For many years I worked in an office Monday to Friday, nine to five, almost chained to my computer! Last year my world became a whole lot more colourful and dynamic! I had always wanted to work on a socially driven project and joining the Belaku team for a four month stint I was able to do just that. It was so great to be able to work with an organisation that is based on such solid foundations in terms of their research and sound approach.

During my time at Belaku something that really stood out was having a constant feeling of fulfilment and inner peace. I was consistently energized and inspired by the work. I had great support from the Belaku team in the Bangalore office. My job was mainly to help the Income Generation Group’s develop new designs and improve production and workflow so I spent a lot of my time out in the villages
with the women.

From the very first day, the women were so welcoming. I was overwhelmed by their kindness and warmth. A memory that stands out so vividly and will always be a part of me was one fairly typical afternoon. It was like any other day, I was sitting quietly making jewellery, the radio was playing some Indian music, there was a lot of easy chatter going on and as usual, plenty of laughter. I was probably in a very similar moment many times before, but on this particular day I was so present and acutely aware. I couldn’t have been happier, my heart filled with joy as I just properly acknowledged how special it was to be there. I was and am so grateful that I was welcomed into the women’s lives and that I was able to become a part of their world in some small way. These experiences have warmed my heart and highlighted that the most simple things in life are the most precious.

The greatest thing about my time in India was the beautiful people I met. I think I probably learnt a little lesson from every single one of them. I loved working closely with people from another culture, learning about their traditions, religion and food. There were a few people in particular that made quite strong impressions. Channa’s calm nature and warm and joyous personality. He really made me smile so much. Sara’s strength, focus and clear determination, her unwavering commitment and drive was so inspiring. Kaveri’s amazing presence of calm and great clarity when under pressure was so impressive, I have a great respect for her. Chowdamma’s endless smiles, laughs, kindness and happy nature was so endearing. All these people mentioned and more inspired me in different ways, teaching me new ways of being and seeing the world.

In life we can sometimes paint our worlds with just one, two or at best three colours. But when we are open, true and follow our hearts amazing things can happen, that’s what I’ve learnt. I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity to travel the world and do work I believed in with all my heart. To be able to use my skills to help others. I met amazing people who all in some way enriched my life. I now feel like I have all the colours of the world at my fingertips. Here’s to painting the world with a brighter kaleidoscope of colour!

For more information on the work I did with the women please visit my blog

http://stephwestcott.tumblr.com/

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