Linda Mandrayar of The White Rainbow Project and Laura Eastman Malcolm’s Pearls of Hope, on show at MAALGAADi on February 24, bring cheer to disadvantaged women.
Chennai, 2017.02.25 (The Hindu): By now, many have heard of the widows of Vrindavan. Married young, and widowed soon after, they are disowned by families or taken to Vrindavan and left to fend for themselves. Bereft of all colour — most wear an austere white — living in penury and saving for the next meal.
Today, the presence of NGOs working for women has changed their plight to an extent. Many have ensured that they live a life of dignity.
What Linda Mandrayar and her husband Dharan did was not just stop with that, but also bring back colour into their lives, through the evocative The White Rainbow Project. By training widows and destitute women in art and craft, and selling those creations abroad, the project has ensured that there is a difference in the lifestyle of these women. Now, it also works with Sangita Charitable Trust in Tambaram.
The NGO recently teamed up with designer Laura Eastman Malcolm, whose Pearls of Hope adds cheer to the disadvantaged by getting them to create fashion statements with beads. The two are to feature in One Handed Clap, an event hosted by MAALGAADi on February 24.
Says Mandrayar, “I have seen a huge difference in the demeanour of the women we work with. They used to be depressed, now their interpersonal relationships have improved, they are happier, they are confident because of their craft. They never believed they could produce anything of value.”
The discovery of fire was the first step to make glass beads. Beads were considered so valuable they were placed in burial tombs.
Art as therapy is known to produce great results, and that’s what both Mandrayar and Eastman, who hails from New York, have achieved. The latter has also worked with women in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, and Italy. “We strive to expand their creative range. Sometimes, a jewellery designer trains them, now Laura has instilled in them a love for beads,” adds Mandrayar.
Eastman started working with members of The White Rainbow Project a year ago. She is a student of art history who specialised in the Florentine Renaissance and fused her love for colour and love of light into creating beaded accessories. When friends saw her work in New York, they asked her to take it to Vogue. A bemused Eastman did, and the rest is history. Now, her beaded scarves, shawls and accessories are much admired.
“What we’ve done is tap into these women’s natural creativity and get them to rejoice in the beauty of colour and creation,” concludes Mandrayar. And yes, provide them with hot tea, a warm hug and skills to sustain them for life.
Colours of the world
* The White Rainbow Project has partnered with Laura Eastman Designs to create the ‘Heart to Heart’ collection of beaded scarves.
* Laura, whose work has been retailed out of stores such as Bloomingdale’s, formed ‘Pearls of Hope’ to train women in bead embroidery.
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