Designer Sobha Viswanath on how Bhoomi dolls helped Kerala flood survivors
Sobha Viswanath, the curator of Bhoomika and founder of Weavers Village, carried an aura of ineffable joy while she spoke about the women involved in the fundraiser for flood-affected people.
KOCHI: ‘No longer the gentler gender’ was the war cry that echoed out of a strong warrior hidden under a graceful visage. Sobha Viswanath, the curator of Bhoomika and founder of Weavers Village, carried an aura of ineffable joy while she spoke about the women who are actively involved in the fundraiser initiative for the flood-affected people.
In the background of the upcoming two-day exhibition at A Few Good Things, Kadavanthara, on November 2 and 3, she said it is not just a drive to raise funds for flood relief but is also a part of women empowerment.
“Bhoomika means ‘daughter of Mother Earth’ and Deepak Shivraj of Pava Creative Studio came up with the mascot which is a doll. The dolls are made of handloom and textile waste. The ‘bindi’ stands for hope and the boat represents sustainability. The dolls do not have a mouth because Deepak did not know what expression it should have. When we reached out to different places during the floods, we saw children fighting for a bottle of potable water, women in wet clothes with no sanitary napkins and we heard pangs of hunger. Our hearts sank when we saw this and hence we decided that the mascot will not have any expression,” she said.
The dolls were a big hit among many including celebrities such as Katrina Kaif, Sonu Nigam, Nithya Menon, and many bought the dolls in the exhibition which was conducted at the Weavers Village in Thiruvananthapuram last month. The dolls are available at different concept stores, café and online stores. Most of the women working with Bhoomika are from NGOs such as Nirbhaya and Mahila Mandiram. According to Sobha, about 80 per cent of the women are from other states and most of them are mentally challenged. “When these women are abandoned at the NGO by their relatives, they feel like they have no worth and purpose in life. Through Bhoomika, I want to change that and add value to their lives,” she said.
She said the eyes of the mascot doll are made by Sulekha who is partially blind and mute. “It is amazing to see these women come out of their shell and do things that inspire and touch people. We try to get them to be active in the work and we have even opened bank accounts for most of them. Soon, we want to see all of them becoming independent,” she said. The exhibition will have stalls by Sweet Revenge, live portrait by Ajippan, Live Mehandi designs by Reema Muneer, sustainable clothing by Rajeev Peethaambaran, handmade pottery by Anu Cheeran, Bodha Ayurvedic wellness sustainable clothing, products by Enlightened Jamun and an art exhibition by Navami Jayakumar.
“I feel our team is a blend of extremely talented people who want to use it for the right cause. It may sound cliché when I say that we will be contributing a part of our profit for flood relief. But more than contributing funds, we want to promote sustainable living in all the flood-affected areas,” Sobha said.
The objective of Bhoomika is to provide clean water, promote green energy and make people self-reliant. “We are planning to have this drive all across the country but for now we are covering the major metros and tourist destinations. With the money that we raise from this exhibition, we shall be supplying water purifiers to people in Kuttanad, water tanks to various communities in Alappuzha and sewing machines for women in these areas,” Sobha said.
When asked about her future plans, she quoted Benjamin Franklin, ‘One today is worth two tomorrows; I want to do something today and tomorrow will be a new story altogether.