The Synergy Marine Group is supporting an alternative livelihood for marginalised people in a remote rural area.
The Mauna Dhwani Foundation promotes resurgence of community identity by helping the disenfranchised to find their voice and reclaim their place in society, and thus transition from excluded silence (Mauna) to liberated sound (Dhwani). One example of this is an industry-supported initiative in reviving traditional weaving in communities in the northern Indian state of Odisha.
The bags go by the name of “HASA”, which means “Mother Earth” in the evocative Ol Chiki script, the official written language of the Santali people. “HASA” appears on the handles of the bags, which also carry the Synergy logo, and the coloured artwork is done with natural dyes extracted from flowers, roots, and bark.
In echo of the belief in some communities that fish and diamonds bestow good luck, these bags wish a safe voyage to everyone in the seafaring community, and their manufacture and use support the twin objectives of environmental awareness and conservation of natural resources.
So, to speak in reply, in using these bags Synergy conveys that, as a major maritime venture, it will work to minimise, progressively lessen and eventually eradicate any harm to our planet and will strive to preserve its pristine glory to the greatest possible extent.
The Mauna Dhwani Foundation NGO has set up fully functional community weaving centres in five villages in the Mayurbhanj district.
The Foundation thus provides a viable earning opportunity - in reality, an alternative means of livelihood - for more than 400 ladies in the locality, who (after decades of economic marginalisation and apathy from the wider society) are now able to press forward in taking their first strides towards making a sustainable living.
Thus, via the Foundation's handloom weaving and natural dyeing programme, these women can generate an income and also receive further training in traditional weaving methods. So, as well as producing the bags outlined above, mothers, sisters and daughters who were previously solely dependent on income from agriculture can now harness their talents in producing handloomed sarees, shawls, and other garments.
Synergy’s dedication to this was highlighted by a visit by Captain Unni on 15 August. As we commemorated 75 years of Independence, our CEO stepped into the village of Chuliaposi, in Odisha. There, amid the Independence Day celebrations, the gathering laid the foundation stone of a new craft unit. Thus, from eight women in one village this initiative has now reached over 400 across five villages, and the new facility will support another 50, each taking her chosen path and with her head held high.
Captain Unni took part in the traditional rituals, and in the dancing and feasting afterwards, and reflected on the aura that radiated from the four young women who were the leaders of the group. At the end, one of them came up to him and said “Dhanyabad (thank you). From today, I too will dream.” She then took her friend's arm, smiled and said, “and so will she.”
This young lady is one of many villagers involved in this project who have expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Synergy Marine Group for its support, both in investing in the bags - which help provide them with this opportunity - and in raising profile, in rural Odisha and also more generally in highlighting that with help it is possible for all to attain greater dignity through work, alongside deep satisfaction in a job well done.
It does not stop there. Having learned these skills, several women have now set up small units in their own homes, another very important milestone that quite literally weaves this project into the social fabric of a village. This has resulted in women leaders who aspire to run their own business from home and has also revived the age-old tradition of a weaving cluster, where every home possessed a loom and the whole family was involved in the process.
This means that, alongside greatly increased self-esteem, women courageously stepping forward to live their dreams in this way has unleashed possibilities that could bring these remote villages back to their former glory as self-sustaining economic, cultural, and social units, the very keystone objective of the Mauna Dhwani Foundation.