These numbers are markers; reasons to celebrate. Each one represents a life changed and a new start that’s been given.

But numbers only tell part of the story. Behind the numbers there is life bubbling up within the walls of Sari Bari – it spills out of the buildings and into the streets of Kolkata.

I’ve been an intern here for over a month, and ever since I’ve arrived, my senses have been awakened to life echoing within Sari Bari. As I write this, I’m sitting on the concrete floor, beside an amazing woman who’s stitching and another who’s trimming loose threads from a bag.

I’m surrounded by a whirlwind of activity and inspirational women working in freedom together. If you were beside me right now…

You’d see…
Women sitting on the floor or behind a sewing machine, working away.
Splashes of color everywhere, with vibrant saris laid out, ready to be cut.
Shoes, of all sizes and colors, lined at the building’s entrance.

You’d hear….
Laughter and lively conversation between the women as they go about their work.
Sewing machines stopping and starting as ladies align the material.
The neighborhood rooster crowing throughout the day.
Washing machines and dryers churning as they constantly clean the saris.
Plastic rustling as products are packaged and ready to be shipped.

 

You’d feel…
The afternoon sunlight piercing your skin as it streams into the building.
The humidity hugging to your skin as the rain clouds collect moisture.
The passionate embrace of a lady who’s been given a second chance.

You’d smell…
Delicious curries wafting through the building as ladies congregate for lunch.
Exotic aromas from the streets below, drifting through the windows.
The rain as it finally cools down the air that’s been expectantly awaiting its arrival.

You’d taste…
Delicious sweet tea and biscuits that are shared at 11am and 5pm each day.
Fresh drinking water from the buildings’ water filters.
Yummy cake that’s shared at celebrations marking women’s Freedom Birthdays.

 

There’s so much to experience inside Sari Bari’s four buildings, with their signature white walls and red doors. I’ve never stepped into a workplace like this before… it feels like a peaceful (and yet bustling) haven from the chaotic streets.

With every sense, you can feel the resilience of the women. It’s taken an incredible step of courage for each one to choose a Sari Bari life, and it’s their courage that travels with them as they step out of work and venture home each night to their families.

 

Written by Nicole Peck

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