iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
San Francisco Bay Area-based non-profit Indian Business and Professional Women (IBPW) hosted a fundraiser to help Sukarma Foundation, another non-profit reach medical aid to India’s villages. The fundraiser was held on November 6 in Fremont, California.
Deepka Lalwani, founder and executive director at IBPW, along with her group of professional women from IBPW attended the small fundraiser at Lalwani’s home where Sukarma Foundation founder Maya Vishwakarma shared her journey.
Based out of Silicon Valley, Sukarma Foundation is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization, that works on improving the lives of rural Indians. The foundation was established in India in 2016 and a year later in California, believes in making a sustainable positive impact in people’s lives by driving grass-root change and enabling people to help themselves.
Vishwakarma, a Mehragaon native from Madhya Pradesh, India, moved to the United States to pursue her PhD in chemical and biological engineering from SDSMT (South Dakota School of Mines and Technology). She dropped out from her PhD and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue her career in Cancer Biology at UCSF Hospital.
Vishwakarma’s work has been covered by major media in India and is known as ‘the padwoman of India’ for starting a a home-run factory to make cheap sanitary pads, a venture she launched in 2016 that today serves not just her village women but adjoining villages around Narsighpur district in Madhya Pradesh, India.
She was inspired by ‘Padman’ Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur who invented a low-cost sanitary pad manufacturing machine and started raising awareness about menstrual hygiene in rural India.
Speaking at the small gathering, Vishwakarma shared the vision and the key initiatives taken up by the foundation including educating women about the importance of female hygiene and sexual health, empowering them through employment opportunities via sustainable businesses, and providing telemedicine facilities to people in remote areas who need timely quality medical assistance that saved many lives during Covid.
Asked about her new projects, she said, “Yes, a couple of new initiatives have been taken up by the foundation, during Covid and its aftermath.” Some of her work provides basic education to children and adults from impoverished sections of rural India.
“We have also started offering free computer education and try to get them jobs in startups,” said Vishwakarma. “We have placed 10 people in the past two years.”
She said sewing is another skill in demand among village women. It helps them work from home and run small boutique-type shops. They learn to stitch Indian women’s clothes mainly. “We have over 100 young adults — all women — and in the past two years had over 500 students,” she said.
The IBPW was founded in 1994 primarily as a support network, and to provide a forum through which members could identify and address issues of mutual concern. In order to encourage and stimulate business and professional potential among women, IBPW continues to have some noteworthy personalities as guest speakers at its seminars and workshops and has showcased several member-owned businesses.
On hosting fundraising Lalwani said, “I was just so impressed by her work, so, I called her home and talked to her husband.”
“We [IBPW]have always been doing things for women’s causes,” Lalwani said and narrated, one of Mahatma Gandhi’s quotes, ‘If you can’t be a candle then be a mirror to reflect the light’.”