Shop for a Cause
Shop for a Cause
A Mumbai social activist taps artistic talents of the disabled persons and makes the rich loosen their purse strings for their benefit
M. H. Lakdawala
In Mumbai there’s a small ‘craft shop’, that cares. Situated at the steps of the Mount Mary Church in Bandra, ‘Nurture’ is very unlike other shops that sell handcrafted goods.
At Nurture, cane shelves, display racks, buckets and baskets, creativity and talents of artisans ooze out of all corners. And these are from those who have challenged their disability. The creative collection is supplied by handicapped persons, prisoners and battered wives - offering a gamut of interesting hand made gifts to choose from.
In 1996, Dilshad Dewani decided to set up an only one-of-its-kind shop. Recalling how Nurture came into being, Dilshad narrates: “Being a home science graduate, craft has always interested me. Occasionally, I used to conduct craft classes for women and children”. Her paediatrician husband always urged her “to do something for children in need of special care.”
“As a craft teacher, I know, sometimes it is difficult to teach a normal person. So when I interacted with and saw the handiwork of those who are suffering from some form of disability or are coping with some trauma, it was very inspiring,” she said.
“So we decided to bring the handicrafts of various organization under one roof and sell them, more as a soul satisfying pursuit than a money making venture,” said Dilshad.
The proceeds go back entirely to respective NGOs says Dilshad. The shop houses, among other things, stuffed toys, cloth bags, salwar kameez suits, beaded jewellery, candles in resplendent colours.
“Lots of NGOs melas and exhibitions are held but they are an one-time thing. Here today, gone tomorrow. To get the people to support causes and goodwill organisation, rapport needs to be built with them.” The shop gets its publicity solely by word of mouth”
The other attraction here is the ambience. “The customers walk in and plank themselves on the floor and browse leisurely through the goods. They might not make a big buy but they just love to be here,” says Dilshad. “People come in as much for helping a cause, as to buy things. Even poor people walk in and buy phenyl and liquid soap so that somebody else can benefit.”
Dilshad’s satisfaction comes from the knowledge that her efforts are making it possible for some one to lead a better life. People visit the shop not just to buy things but often to enquire about various organizations so that they too can pitch in for the cause. The awareness value is a bonus that Dilshad is happy about. “This is a shop but our job goes beyond mere selling.”
‘It’s a moving experience,” asserts someone who has visited Nurture to shop for a cause. A first time customer to the shop Shamina Khan puts it aptly, “each item has a lesson for us. Lesson about trying, about real adversity compared with what most of us call adversity. They tell us more about ourselves and our deficiencies that they do about their craftsmen.”
Though customers appreciate the concept and are responsive, the project like this needs publicity and encouragement. Naturally with limited resources Dilshad cannot afford advertisements but depends on the goodwill.
The concept such as Nurture needs to be replicated throughout the country. After a lot of zealous hard work and with noble intentions Nurture was launched in Mumbai. Indeed on every cane and wicker shelf, you can see the triumph of the human spirit over trials and tribulations in life. This craft shop truly Nurtures that spirit.
The underprivileged and deprived sections of society are awaiting somebody like Dilshad to lend him or her a helping hand so that this world would be a better place to live in.