I had only lived here for a few months and was in the big middle of Hindi classes and business research. To practice my language skills, I made small talk with anyone in my neighborhood who was willing. Children, somehow, didn’t seem to mind my halting speech mixed with all the gestures of a lively game of charades. So, kids became my first friends. Here’s a picture of me making new friends and learning more about my community after moving here in 2012.
Zeba was one of my favorites—a precious little girl, the youngest of 7 children in her home. Her mother was a maid in my neighborhood, and Zeba, only 6 years old, had also started working with her. When I’d see her outside in between chores, I’d show her picture books and sneak her cookies.
When Zeba Left
One day, I noticed that she wasn’t around. A few more days passed by and I started asking where Zeba had gone. I discovered that she was sold to a family in Delhi as a domestic worker. I talked to a few people in powerful positions in the community, and they laughed at the idea of trying to bring her home. Poverty was the reason Zeba’s mother had made the tough choice between keeping her daughter in a home without enough food or sending her to a wealthy family that promised to feed and clothe her in exchange for work. And, poverty would be the reason Zeba stayed in bondage after that unimaginable choice was made. Government corruption, lack of resources, and lack of social power made it impossible to get her daughter back.
Only then did I start to understand how devastatingly difficult life is for family caught in the generational cycle of extreme poverty in our community. With no government support, no education, no legal help, and very limited resources, families are forced to make unbelievable choices.
We wanted to start a business that supported mothers like Zeba’s, and children like Zeba. So we started Ziyada with the heart to create a safe and empowering work environment for the women who needed jobs in our community. And the impact of this decision has had ripple effects in the lives of our artisans AND their children. Some of this impact is difficult to measure. Things like dignity, peace of mind, self esteem and a loving community can’t easily be quantified. There are, however, a few things that we can measure. Do you want to hear how your purchases have impacted our community?
✨ All of our artisans with school age children are able to send them to quality schools. That means 28 children are learning, growing and thriving. And there are two more little ones who will join their siblings at school in a few short years. Above is a photo of some of these amazing kiddos enjoying the Summer Day Camp that we host annually.
✨ Each of our artisans have acquired government identification (there are so many barriers to getting ID in our community). Proper identification enables them to have access to their growing providential funds, free government healthcare, bank accounts, voting, and so much more!
✨ 4 of our artisans have started their own businesses. They saved their earnings and reinvested them in money making ventures that provide jobs and income for other members of their family.
✨ 7 of our artisans have built their own homes. These homes are multi storied structures created for large joint families. That means that our artisans, their children, and potential grandchildren, now have a clean and safe living environment with solid floors, a rooftop terrace, electricity, and indoor plumbing.
✨ All of our artisans and their children have access to affordable healthcare. For people in our neighborhood, any health event causes significant financial difficulty since most people have no form of insurance or government assistance. This year, Pushpa, our office cook, had a health event that required her to stop working for several months. The health insurance available through Ziyada paid her salary during her months of sick leave and covers her monthly medication for diabetes and high blood pressure.
✨Our artisans have access to free, onsite childcare during working hours. They can work knowing that their child is being cared for in a clean, loving, safe environment. Without this, our artisans with small children would not be able to work at all. What a difference free childcare makes! Below is a picture of sweet Wesley Anand riding his favorite elephant at our onsite childcare program while his mama works!
When I think of Zeba, I imagine how different life would have been for her if her mother had access to these resources and this kind of support. Friends, you empower people to break free from generational poverty with every product you purchase. And the impact on each of our artisans and their children is life changing! THANK YOU for making a difference! Keep shopping with us, and together, let’s end poverty!