It took me about a year to work out how to do it here, but this is still phase one. We started with humanitarian work, with a health camp for doctor visits, for example. We had two people turn up the first time, then 10 people, then 20, and so on. Then we needed to find out which products sell. " LEVEL PLAYING FIELD On arrival at the straw-roofed mud-hut village the next day, Snellman and her party are greeted like visiting royalty with garlands and the applying of tilak the traditional red-powder mark on the forehead. The children are clutching their Tikau toys and playing up to the camera; the ladies are wearing the saris provided by Tikau on a previous visit. Snellman and accompanying Finnish researcher Linda Lehto preside over a Tikau group meeting. Through the interpretation of Tikau's supervisors on the ground principally the charismatic Arati, her two sons Rakesh and Rajesh, and crafts teacher Niruparna Snellman interviews prospective group members. With a deft and ingenious dignity-boosting touch, she puts the membership of a non-Dalit would-be weaver to the Dalit village vote. "In Tikau we are all on the same level," she tells the villagers. "It is your decision who joins the group." Members are admitted if they can demonstrate how they will contribute. Each decision or positive contribution is marked by a round of applause. Another Finnish team member, Ea Söderberg, conducts a census with photos and videos of the illiterate Tikau group families. Over the following 72 hours, the Tikau team confront a series of challenges that would test the patience of most CEOs. First there are rumours of visits from two mysterious ladies from afar who are trying to elbow in on the business potential in the village. A supply of freshly purchased bamboo disappears. An inspection of the storage warehouse finds the shelves totally bare with Helsinki's Christmas demand a month or so away. A meeting with local officials to discuss purchasing the land and building a community centre reveals the soaring costs and demands made by higher caste members in dealing with their "undesirable" Dalit neighbours. All these obstacles are confronted with pragmatic calm by Snellman and Lehto, who are hardened to the strangely compelling, tragicomic anarchy of Indian life. They also find time to organise a session for distributing old Finnair blankets and garments, followed by a health club session organised with a visiting doctor who consults about 100 patients. Any western child who ever yearned for an iPad or PlayStation might be humbled by the delight of a Dalit boy pulling on his donated Finnish tee-shirt. DINING WITH DALITS A Tikau-funded feast of vegetables, rice and poultry is prepared, with the boys relishing their tasks in the open air kitchen. The nearest school is too far away for most of the village children to attend. This is a highly malarial area so it's not a good idea to hang DESIGN HELPS LIVING ROOM AS PART OF the Helsinki World Design Capital 2012 programme, Tikau will be staging a "Living Room", at a venue to be announced, in the autumn. The aim of the "Design Helps" theme is to support the building of a community centre in the Dalit village in Orissa, also generating funds to provide education and training in the centre once it's been built. Keep an eye on the website for more news: WWW.DESIGNHELPS.NET ENG 32 BLUE WINGS APRIL 2012
Why do I see this page ?
For proper operation Digipaper-publication needs Flash Player version 7 or newer.
Install the latest version of Flash Player from this link.