Where in the World is Jillo?

Empowering Women of India

India has so much to see, and I have seen more than I can remember.  The population of India is about a billion people. There are poor everywhere, beggars pulling at your sleeves, emaciated figures and cripples crawling along the dirty streets. Trash is everywhere. There is much more than meets the eye in this country.

BHarat’s family home, he works at Tapovan.

After the two week tour of Northern India with the tour group, my friends and I went off on a journey of our own to other parts of India. One of the places we visited for about six days was Tapovan,  a spiritual center that includes organic farming, Agnihotra fires that burn 24 hours a day every day, a school, 20-some young Indian men as employees to care for the grounds, cook and work in other ways and a sewing room for women of India to make a decent wage.

Children from the school.

Tapovan is owned and operated by Bruce Johnson and Anne Godfrey, a couple who relocated from Australia some 20 years ago. They were told by a guru named Shree Maharaj that they should locate at Tapovan. They have built up a place that was used as an Ashram and is benefiting other factions of Indian society. Anne is a fashion designer and wanted to do something to empower women of India. A few years ago she thought of hiring them to do jewelry, however it turned into a sewing center for the fashions she creates.
The women in India are on the bottom of the ladder. The women Anne hires are paid a better wage than they can get in the town for sewing Anne’s beautiful creations which she ships to Australia and other places. I purchased several of her creations sewn by the women. The garmets are sewn on old fashioned (but new) treadle sewing machines. The reason for this is that the electricity in India, especially in the country-side is limited to several hours a day. The women seemed very happy sewing in the center and knowing they are getting a fair wage.
My friend, Finbarr donated money to help get the business off the ground several years ago. I was very appreciative that Finbarr planned this visit in India as I felt like I’d known Bruce and Anne forever. It really hit home how much we take for granted in America.  What we spend on lunch at say, McDonald’s, might be all someone in India makes in a day. One can see TV ads for donations to support a poor child in some foreign country but when you visit a place where you can see firsthand what someone is doing to make the world a better place and life for the women (actually women, children and men) more empowering, it makes a much greater impact… at least it did on me.

Finbarr, a teacher, Jill, Anne, Bruce, Anna and Sanjay in front of the school.

I asked myself, “What are YOU doing to make the world a better place?”  If I as a woman cannot stand up for other women no matter what part of the world they are from, can I look myself in the mirror? Looking into the eyes of the women on the street, I felt souls crying out to me to help them.  Would you be willing to help empower the women of India?  I’ve seen the conditions they live in, I’ve visited several of their homes, I went to an Indian wedding, was welcomed with tea or another drink that they could hardly afford even for themselves, but offered to us.  I was cooked fantastic vegetarian food by the young men at Tapovan.
The conditions for the people in India are gradually changing and the conditions for women of India are changing a little at a time.  The rape of women is in all the Indian newspapers, but after the much publicized gang rape of the young girl that died just before I left for India, the Indian government is beginning to take notice. We actually stayed our first couple of nights in a hotel on the same street as this incident took place and heard much about it from the driver who drove us around.
If you would like to donate to the work at Tapovan,  you can check out their Web site at: www.tapovan.net, www.rosecircles.com or check out www.homafarming.com. Myself, I am going to sponsor a girl child at the school there. The families only send the boys to school if that’s all they can afford and I believe I will help empower the women of India by doing this.

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