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Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Committed to supporting the use of fibre as an art form, the blogs you visit here are links to happenings around Ontario and beyond. Use the links to your best advantage and make ART!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Kingston Fibre Artist Group member friends participate in a project to purchase a Rickshaw for a family in India....

Rickshaw purchased with the donation by KINGSTON FIBRE ARTIST GROUP friends

The magic of providing a chance for a job and a better life for a family was very exciting for our local Kingston Fibre Artists Group members who donated to a collection dedicated to purchasing a brand new rickshaw for a family man in Jaipur, India. Our donated dollars went to DANIELLE AIRD, a friend in fibre and textiles who travels to India each year to shop for supplies to bring back to Canada and sell in support of Calcutta Rescue Canada.

We love supporting Danielle and her personal projects and are thankful for her help in guiding us in our quest to participate in the Rickshaw purchase this year.

NOTE: This Rickshaw project was NOT sponsored by Calcutta Rescue, but indeed a worthy  initiative developed by Danielle Aird.
Here is her story....and the project is on hold by Danielle for now, but she may be able to encourage more friends to participate in the future.

Danielle is often at the Downtown Kingston Sunday Market on Market Square in the warmer months and you may contact her here: calcuttarescuecanada@gmail.com
The Letter below was received from Danielle on her return to Canada:
Dear friends who contributed to the rickshaws and blankets,
Attached below is a copy of the saga. I will work on a slide show to share with you soon.
Danielle Aird, Kingston, ON

The Rickshaw Story, November 2014

One morning, a few years ago, while visiting Jaipur, India, I hired a bicycle rickshaw man. Papu was such a pleasant, humble person that I hired him for the whole week. After 4 or 5 days, while he was pedalling, taking me to Johari Bazaar, I said to him: “Today, Papu, you will take me to a rickshaw maker.” He knew instantly what that meant. He turned around on his seat and touching his heart, said to me “My heart is so happy.” He took a minute to catch his breath and continued on to my destination. We ordered the rickshaw and Papu told me that he was illiterate but if I would write my name and my husband's name on a paper, he would have it painted on the back of the rickshaw. He was upset that I would not be around when it would be ready so I could be the first to ride in it. I visited his home, a room about 10 by 15 feet – one toilet in the building is shared by many many people. I met his wife and 2 of his 3 children.

Another year, my sister sponsored two rickshaws. Papu helped me find suitable recipients. One of the rickshaws was for her 5 grandsons' Christmas present. Their names were painted on the back. I met one of the families and I will never forget the smiles.

In November of this year, before leaving for India with friends Malka and Judy, I mentioned this to those of you on my emailing list and more than 10 people came forward wanting to donate rickshaws. I stopped at ten, realizing that this would be a huge task (I had expected that 2 or 3 would be interested). I contacted Laxman, a kind, compassionate friend in Jaipur and asked if he would know of any deserving persons to whom we could donate the rickshaws. He explained that in the area where he lived, there were no bicycle rickshaws but that he would ask around and try to find as many suitable persons as possible. He already knew of one person: the woman is a housecleaner in the neighbourhood and he felt she was a good woman and he enquired about her husband and found him to have an honest reputation. He wanted to make sure that no one would receive a rickshaw and turn around and sell it for drugs or such things.
The seven piece Rickshaw collection purchased in 2014 by Danielle and her friends

Kingston Fibre Artists Group Recipient and his wife

Upon arrival in Jaipur, I asked Papu if he knew anyone and he came up with two men from his neighbourhood. One problem I had not anticipated is that the men live in very different areas. I had thought they would all be in the same neighbourhood.

My friend Laxman (with the help of his brother Suresh) managed to find a total of 5 men. But Laxman works in a tourist shop 7 days a week from 10 am to 9 pm so it was not possible for him to do any legwork. Suresh, who works in more or less the same conditions, was fortunate to have a co-worker who would take his load on while Suresh drove me about side-saddle, without helmet, in the thick of traffic from one rickshaw man's house to another. It was wonderful but the whole time, I was aware that I must be imposing on this very kind man. Whenever I tried to apologize for causing such trouble, he would reply that this was his duty and that since I was coming to help some people, it was the least he could do.

They say the devil is in the details. That is true: to complicate matters, I was not feeling well at the beginning of the visit to Jaipur; then, Judy was sick... then, when we visited the first candidates, my camera's battery died (it is not the kind that is easy to replace) so Judy took some photos; Malka took some photos. Later, I was able to find a charger and to take photos myself. Meanwhile, I tried to keep details straight: names, some information when possible, who would get rickshaw #1, #2 and so forth... , there might be some mistakes with names and ages but I did my very best...

Laxman made numerous calls on his cellphone to coordinate the building of the rickshaws, asking all the right questions, making sure the frame would be such and such, the tires such and such, the rim such and such, that the price would include the painting of names on the back, tax... that they would be ready for delivery while I was still in India. He helped me get the best rate of exchange for the Canadian dollars. (They did end up costing $285. each but I am happy to pay the difference.) Then, he made sure each rickshaw man received a note attesting to ownership. He was invaluable. I could not have done it without him or his brother Suresh. I also could not have done it without Malka and Judy's incredible patience. They definitely have been plunged into the bowels of India during this trip.

Laxman informed us that there was a huge need for blankets and sleeping pads for destitute people. Three of the kingston families who had each donated funds for rickshaws agreed to have their funds allocated to this. Malka and I had fun (while poor Judy was recovering at the hotel) going to the factory depot into the innards or the bazaar to purchase the blankets and pads which we distributed mostly to leprosy patients. We sat in our motor rickshaw crushed under the huge mounds of blankets and drove off into the distance where we brought many smiles to beautiful faces. It was absolutely heart-warming to meet such cheerful people; they have fingers and toes missing; some are disfugured, and yet, they are the most joyful bunch of people; no self-pity there.
I had planned on having some really nice pictures with smart compositions, good lighting, etc... but time was of the essence and since I did not want to impose on Suresh, the photos are what they are !
I could go on; suffice to say that this was a wonderful experience and Malka, Judy and I have all of you to thank for it. I will work on a slide show and hopefully, I can share it with you soon.
Thank you all!
Danielle Aird
THIS IS A BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT for the Kingston Fibre Artists Group friends who shared in the donation to Danielle and her project for a rickshaw purchase ...all best wishes to Danielle and to Judy, Malka, Laxman, Papu and all of her friends worldwide. And especially to our Rickshaw Recipient and his family!