Crowdfunding: Helping You Save Lives

Have you ever come across the term ‘devadasi’? It’s a Hindi word which literally translates to ‘servant of god’. In early days, select girls, as young as 5, were chosen to “marry” the temple goddess. This meant the girls couldn’t marry anybody else and had to serve the temple all their lives. In time, powerful men started misusing them for their carnal pleasures and these girls, who were revered as god’s servants, were branded prostitutes. Over the years many women and girls have been sold as devadasis (sex slaves) for money. Since the 80’s, the practice has been banned in India. But when a country’s population is over a billion, many malpractices go undetected, especially in remote villages.

Welcome to Kappalaguddi. A small hamlet in the district of Belgaum in north Karnataka. Our story is of a seamstress named Mahananda. When she was 16 years of age, Mahananda’s mother fell seriously ill and she had no money for treatment. So she turned to her uncles for aid. As any good relative would, they paid for her mother’s treatment. But what happened next was both shocking and disturbing. In order to recoup the money, her uncles sold Mahananda as a devadasi.

Powerless and friendless, Mahananda decided to do her master’s biddings. A few months later she fell really ill and was unable to work. Reports from the hospital she visited declared that she was with child. The Pregnant woman begged for her child’s life and she was set free by her owner.

It was after this that life’s trial started for Mahananda. To the rest of the world she was a prostitute, a whore. This made it difficult for her to find a job, and feed herself and her child. It was during this period that she met Sitava. A former devadasi and an activist who helps women like herself get back on their feet.

Sitava aided Mahananda in securing a micro-loan from an online crowdfunding site which helped set up her own sewing business. Today Mahananda is able to provide a better life and education to her children.

This is the story of just one such person who has been able to make a better living through crowdfunding. These days, it is difficult for people from less privileged backgrounds to secure a loan, even from government run banks. Crowdfunding has a come as boon to many of them. The loans these platforms provide are collateral free and have low interest. It is aimed at eradicating poverty completely from this country. Crowdsourcing is a gift of giving. Companies like Milaap, Rang De and Faircent are among such organizations which are helping develop India, one step at a time.

Adidas Parley and the War on Plastic

On the 10th of May 2017, Adidas launched a new style in its Parley Series. Alright! So they released new shoes. What’s the big deal?

For those of you who don’t know, shoes in the Parley series are made from recycled and reclaimed ocean plastic. In June 2016 Adidas, who were highly concerned about the amount of plastic being dumped in oceans, collaborated with ‘Parley for the Oceans’ to design products from ocean plastic. This move has received major backing from many all over the world, especially environmentalists.

For those of you who do not understand the significance of this partnership, it is high time you started educating yourself about our planet. We have been using plastic extensively, so much so that its disposal has become a huge problem. For years we have been dumping them in the oceans which has led to the formation of a ‘trash island’ in the pacific. Called the Great pacific garbage patch or the pacific trash vortex, this culmination of plastic in the ocean is causing a lot of harm to aquatic life.

Today, there are multiple viral videos of eco-sailors trying to help marine life. Couple of videos include people trying to remove plastic stuck in a turtle’s nostrils and synthetic fishing net entangled in a tortoise’s neck. People have also found carcasses of sea birds and whales whose intestines were filled with plastic. If this isn’t troubling, then I don’t know what is. Wanting to lead a comfortable life is one thing but living an extravagant life at the cost of multiple lives, especially those of endangered species, is completely unacceptable.

As environmentally concerned people are looking for solutions to clean this mess, Adidas’ initiative seems to be huge step in the right direction.

Since its initiation, the company has been manufacturing shoes and apparels from the waste Parley reclaims. In 2016 alone Parley retrieved over 740 million tons of plastic waste from which Adidas has started manufacturing its products. They aim to convert this waste into one million shoes, which is equal to almost 11 million reclaimed plastic bottles.

Their strategy to eliminate ocean plastic pollution involves three steps – avoid, intercept and redesign. They have started gradually reducing the usage of plastic in all their practices. They collect marine debris and intercept as much plastic waste as possible even before they reach the ocean. Then Adidas and Parley together design high performance sports shoes from the recovered plastic waste.

In today’s world, where organizations are trying to associate themselves with sustainability, Adidas’ move will pay dividends in the coming years, not only to its business but also to the environment.