SEWA Internship: Week 1
By Kora Abraham
All my family and friends back in Newcastle keep asking me what India is like, all I can say is different but good different. My name is Kora Abraham and I am 20 years old. I’m studying Economics and Finance at university because I really enjoyed it during school. I’m originally from down south in London but go to university up in Newcastle.
I am currently embarking on a new challenge in India. I am working with a trade union called SEWA which stands for Self Employed Women’s Association which is a labour union of women workers in the informal sector. These women earn their livelihood through their labour or small business and have no fixed employer-employee relationship. This project in particular called out to me because I agree with the way in which the trade union goes about achieving full employment for women. People in the western world are lucky enough to live where workers obtain work security, income security, food security and social security, I realise how lucky we are and I think it’s unfair that these women in India must face such hardship just purely because of the county they were born in, it could have easily been the other way around so I think it’s only right to lend a hand. SEWA follows the Gandhian thinking which lies very close to my own morals and ethics. This union is paving the way to the end of poverty and exploitation of women who work long hours with little pay. This project gives these women the chance to provide for themselves, their community and not have to be dependant on their husbands. In these recent years, women have been speaking up and change is happening and I’m so happy I get to help change happen for these poor women to.
My first impression of India is humid, oh so very humid! This first week has been so exciting, I have never been to India before so there has definitely been a big culture shock. On our first visit to the SEWA offices, I was surprised at how much of their culture of religion they pour into their work. Before, any work can take place they sing a beautiful prayer every morning which, of course is very different from England. It has taken a while to get use to where everything is around campus and how things work. There is defiantly a more laid-back vibe compared to the non-stop movement of London. We’ve done a bit of exploring out in town, gone to cafes, supermarkets, malls, river fronts which has been wonderful. Getting in our first taxi was a bit nerve wrecking there are no rule when driving, no lanes, everybody goes which ever way they wish which is scary at times but also quite funny.
At the end of the week, I went on a field trip to Gayathriben village to talk to the members about how the water equipment’s are working, how it has improved their livelihoods and their opinion on what could be improved further for greater efficiency. It was a very humbling experience and the women and children were so lovely and welcoming.
After university I want to go into consulting and I feel this project is like consulting. I am liaising with a client who wants to make changes to their organisation in the hopes of making it more efficient and productive. This is the same type of work I’m doing for SEWA. Working in a company requires a Iot of project work so I hope to learn how to best tackle project so I can use the knowledge in my future career. Also, I hope to better my soft skills especially communication since communication is a big part of consulting. I will be conversing with many people whose first language is not English and it will be tough but very rewarding in the end.