Telling other people’s stories can be problematic and, if anything, I think my profiles are sometimes incomplete because I don’t believe it’s my place to ask, assume or assign motivations. You never want to label someone or show their face if they aren’t completely safe or comfortable, so sometimes you just can’t photograph faces. This interview was conducted in English and Hindi in Mumbai, India and edited to be a first person account for Raven + Lily. Photo by Melinda DiMauro.
I am originally from Delhi. I went to school until seventh grade. I learned tailoring and embroidery from a women’s shelter I stayed at before. Now, I embellish Raven + Lily tees and tanks. I have worked here for two years and learned a lot in that time. I used to know only the basics, but my skills have improved and I’m proud of that. I want to keep learning new things. Here, we work together in teams and support each other. I am now teaching other women embroidery skills. I am happy to teach them because they can move ahead in their lives. I am mentoring two girls right now, and I like seeing them progress. When girls arrive here at the center, they are shy and hide themselves. I was like that, too. After being here awhile, they interact with people and gain confidence.
I have never lived on my own and supported myself before this. Right now, I live in an apartment near work with two roommates. I like to live my life on my own. In the future, I would like to run a design business and help employ other women.
I put a lot of effort in to my work, and I like when people support it. So many women in India are illiterate and uneducated; they can’t work outside the home. They should be given an opportunity to earn money. In my neighborhood, most of the women stay home, but their husbands don’t earn enough to send their children to school. Women should be able to earn money to support their families. I am saving the money I earn to buy a home for myself one day.
-Alisha, 22, employee, seamstress