VanaMoolika is an interesting story indeed of women who work.
This is an organized group of women who lead other women to improve their lives and their families’ lives. I had a glimpse of how courageous and insightful they were when we met them the morning we arrived in VanaMoolika.
After a quick breakfast and shower, we assembled in the main hall where some Indian women were sitting shyly. They wore their finest sarees, each a colour more vibrant that the next. In no time, the blue plastic chairs were filled up. These women stared at us just as we stared at them. As guests, we had the honour of being seated in front of the hall, facing them.
When every woman representative had arrived, they stood up to sing a song. Though I didn’t understand a word, it sounded very calming and beautiful and seemed to give them strength. It was a prayer song.
I didn’t know how much they understood when we introduced ourselves. We must’ve looked and sounded strange to them. For a moment, I realized how far from Penang I was. To these women, Penang was just a word, not a place.
Women are often thought to be shy and quiet in accordance with our feminine nature. It isn’t true. A woman can speak her mind and be vocal, no matter what education one has had.
One by one, these women farmers were eager to pick up the microphone and tell us proudly what they’ve done, what they dream for and what they really need. They were quietly confident and ready to articulate with pride their work as herb farmers.
They were proud that their herb farming gave them a chance to raise their families and allowed them to contribute to their community. Although they spoke in their local language, one could sense the hopes they had for their own village and future. They had big dreams and why not? They knew they had to have better in life and farming herbs could be one way to reach those lofty dreams.
Their herbs are used to produce Ayurvedic medicines which are helping the sick. Besides medicines, their herbs are also used for beauty care, the natural way, without chemicals or synthetic materials.
VanaMoolika also runs a shop which sells its own brand of herbal powder shampoo, herbal hair oils, balms, facial masks, even organic pickled chilies and organic vanilla pods. All these are made based on the 5,000 year-old system of knowledge called Ayurveda. (Kerala is famous for its Ayurvedic treatments, hospitals and clinics. Good health, simple food and close family ties are incredibly important.)
I had travelled a long way and I found that women everywhere are the same.
We know what we want. Sometimes we have different means of getting what we want but in the end, it is still the same.
Women power indeed.
A salute to these courageous women farmers of VanaMoolika.