Eight months pregnant and desperate to make a better life for her unborn child, Sundari* was on the hunt for a job that would keep her from joining the line.
Only a teenager, Sundari was knocking on the doors of freedom businesses, searching for any option, any hope, that would lead to a bright future for her daughter.
Sundari did find hope.
Fast forward almost 18 months, and Sundari, now 18 years old, has been working at Sari Bari for 5 months, and is in her final month of training.
When you walk through the red doors of our production unit, often the first thing you’ll see is a cute little face peering from behind one of the sewing rooms. That cute little face belongs to Sundari’s daughter, Suji*, who is exactly one year, two months and 10 days old.
“She dances a lot and claps her hands and gives a lot of joy to the room [while we all sew],” Sundari says. “She loves everyone here and has a lot of aunties, uncles and grandmothers at Sari Bari!”
“I wanted my daughter to have a better life than I did. I grew up in a hostel, but I want to be able to move out of [the red light area] with my daughter and raise her in a different neighborhood where I’ll be able to send her to school,” she says.
Sundari has dreams of sending Suji to an English speaking school. “However much work it takes me, I will do it so my daughter can have that kind of education. I want her to be able to study as long as she can. I want her to learn how to draw and how to dance.”
It’s taken a lot of determination for Sundari to push through challenges during her training. “When I first started training, I didn’t think I would be able to do it. My manager here at Sari Bari is my next-door neighbor, and when I saw her sewing at home, I thought I could do that too. But when I got here and started sewing, I thought I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make my lines straight,” Sundari says.
But with the help of her manager, Sundari learnt how to sew in straight lines and is now on her way towards graduation. “When I finished my first bag, I was filled with joy because I didn’t think I would be able to do it. And I couldn’t have done it without my manager’s help.”
Sundari says her favorite part about coming into work each day is sitting with the other women and telling stories. “I like that I get to come and do work while spending time with all of the other women. It makes my day pass quickly!”
India celebrated Children’s Day on November 14 – so today at Sari Bari, we’re celebrating children like Suji who have a bright future ahead because of the bravery of their mothers!
*Names have been changed
Written by Nicole Peck