If you’ve been following updates here on my travel blog, you know that this fall I’ve been giddy to launch a new series, Beautiful Ideas Help the World, featuring organizations I personally love, impacting lives all over the globe through beauty, creativity, and entrepreneurship. Since, sadly, I can’t bring back souvenirs for everyone, I’m hosting giveaways to go along with these posts, to offer each of you a little chance at something special from overseas.
Feature Two: Sari Bari: Kolkata, India
Enter to win a re-purposed sari bag by leaving a comment; read below for the full story.
How do you enter to win one of these beautiful sari fabric hobo bags from Sari Bari?
This is my personal Sari Bari bag I’ve been carting around the world, pictured here on the beaches of Zanzibar next to little coral treasures. See below for a photo of the lovely gray and gold bag featured in the giveaway.
I’m not a fan of gimmicky giveaways, so I’m not requiring tweets or follows, but I’m providing links to all the relevant Sari Bari information, and I’d love to invite you to follow the project’s story and think about purchasing from them the next time you want your dollars and cents to go toward something beautiful.
To enter the contest, simply leave a comment below answering one of the following questions. (Leave a second comment answering the other question if you’d like to enter twice.)
A) How many bags do you usually take on an out-of-state or overseas trip?
B) Beyond a Sari Bari bag, which other beautiful re-purposed sari item would you love to call your own? Take a look at their line! – throws, table runners, bedcovers, baby blankets, makeup cases, jewelry rolls, scarves, computer sleeves…the list goes on and there’s no wrong answer.
Giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere. (That means you lovely international readers as well!) All you need is a mailing address. Winner will be chosen at random and notified by email. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected and notified. See here for full giveaway terms and details.
Giveaway closes at 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time (that’s Oregon!), on Wednesday, November 7th. So, you can wait around until just about midnight on the 7th to enter (if you find yourself needing a distraction from US election results), or you can leave your name and answer below right now…
I love Sari Bari’s mission and their beautiful products. I discovered them shortly after they started selling merchandise online in 2008, and since then I’ve been grateful to order several of their beautiful baby blankets to give as special baby shower gifts. Each one is unique, each bears a label with the name of the woman who crafted the piece, and each is a symbol of beautiful new life.
The following excerpt is taken from the Sari Bari website:
Sari Bari opened in 2006, after four years of steady presence in the red light areas of Kolkata, India.
Kolkata hosts more than 22 red light areas and more than 60,000 women work in its commercial sex industry. Sari Bari operates in two of these red light districts: Sonagacchi and Kalighat. Most of the women and girls working there come from the villages of West Bengal, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. They never chose the sex trade for themselves; poverty, trafficking and trickery chose them.
Sari Bari began with a series of friendships that transformed our worldview and in fact, our lives. The first relationship came to us by chance; our friend Josh went to the barber and was offered sexual services when his haircut was finished. Rather than accept, Josh started a conversation. That simple conversation led our community to begin visiting the brothels.
New life at Sari Bari starts with a simple invitation. We have a team of staff who visits the red light areas, keeping connections open and making opportunities for new friendship a priority. The team offers presence to the women’s current circumstances and invitations to work at Sari Bari or partnering businesses.
Whenever a woman accepts the invitation, she interviews and is assigned a start date. The brothel visitation team continues to follow up with her to encourage and support her during the time leading up to her start date.
Everyone’s first day at Sari Bari is celebrated with a birthday cake. The staff gathers around on these special days to celebrate and encourage the new women as they take their first step toward freedom and a new life. Their mukti (freedom) birthday is marked and we continue to celebrate it yearly with cake and a community celebration. As Sari Bari has grown, we celebrate a mukti birthday almost every month!
For more on Sari Bari’s beautiful work, visit their site, follow them on Twitter, and enter below to win this beautiful hobo bag, hand made in India and tough enough to survive a trip around the world.
Literally the day before we left on our trip, I pulled my purple hobo bag back out from the storage boxes and set it with my backpack and day bag. I thought if I was leaving nearly everything behind for the year, it would be nice to start out in the first new city with one last familiar piece of home. I’d been using it as my main purse for eight months already, might as well try to stretch it a little longer. I figured I could always give it away to a new friend on the road if it got to be too much to carry.
Bringing it turned out to be one of the best last-minute-decisions of my life (I’m barely exaggerating).
The cloth compresses easily to fit in my backpack when we’re buttoned up and on the move, and it comes out quickly for those times I’d rather ditch the rest of my luggage and not look like a total tourist.
Call it a security blanket, but my Sari Bari bag makes me feel a little more like myself when I’m wandering foreign markets or trying to fit in on a cruise ship or carting my camera around ruins or dining in restaurant and generally trying to look like I don’t actually carry my life around on my back. It expands enough to become my carry-on on planes and buses and holds my other small black nylon shoulder bag and camera and stash of overnight clothes and a toothbrush.
The zippered inside pocket holds my phone; the other little internal hiding places are great catch-alls for pens and my mini-Moleskine daily spending ledger and the random tidbits I collect along the way.
Though we’re not making it to India on this trip, I’ve carried this little piece of India with me all around the world. It’s a bit threadbare after these thousands and thousands of miles, but it’s still just as beautiful as the day it appeared in my mailbox, with love, all the way from the women of Kolkata…and I hope you’ll get the chance to find one of these beautiful pieces waiting for you in your mailbox someday very soon!
One last note: Until October 30th, Sari Bari is running their second annual Quilt Auction in hopes of raising $60,000 to fund another 25 women on the road to freedom. I invite you to check out their special collection of quilts from around the world and place a bid or leave a donation…
(P.S. My favorite is “Cotton Candy” – just for the record!)
This post is part of my Beautiful Ideas Help the World giveaway series featuring organizations I personally love, impacting lives around globe through beauty, creativity, and entrepreneurship. No tweets or follows or gimmicks are required to participate, but please consider keeping in touch and following along on our respective journeys: