Samunnat exists to support women who are victims of violence or vulnerable to violence. We are often approached by people with a huge range of problems but can’t always help given our tiny resources.
Maya (not her real name) recently arrived asking for support. While she is not directly experiencing violence, she is in a situation that is far from ideal and we are hoping to provide some support for her while we look for some more appropriate assistance.
Maya is a 23-year-old girl with terrible facial tumours. Surgery to partially remove these took place some time ago thanks to an organisation involved in support for medical procedures. It would appear though that the tumours are returning and there is no longer any medical intervention that would be of use. She has no family that we know of and is somewhat at the mercy of others who have “taken her in”. She is terribly vulnerable.
We wanted to see if there was something she could do at the Samunnat office although we currently have no training running. I walked with Maya to the office and witnessed the battle she goes through simply walking down the street each day. We chatted and she was just so brave and dignified.
One of the ladies began to teach her the scarf fringing and she was obviously struggling. It took me way too long to realise that “simply counting the beads” was beyond her because simply counting was beyond her. She had never been to school. I surreptitiously made a template for her to use but those ladies didn’t miss a trick and after Maya left they all said that it was not enough for her to learn how to do the scarf fringing. They asked what would be the best way to give her letters and numbers so she could feel better and be more independent. They wanted to help her so she could feel like them.
The next day, Kopila and our wonderful apron maker, Mina, spent all day with Maya and in time she was counting to ten. By the end of the day she was getting the fringing right by counting to ten three times and adding four! She cried when she left because it had been such a happy day for her. She felt so proud of herself and said she had loved eating with the ladies in the kitchen when they shared their tiffin for lunch.
Unfortunately, we are not selling a lot of scarves and the fabric we used to use is not available any more so we are looking for another more sustainable place where Maya can get training that will lead to a sustainable income and independence. Until then, she is coming to the office a few days each week and we are doing what we can with saris! Scarves anyone?