The Leaky Boob, responsibility, India, sex trafficking, hand sewing, and transforming communities

In the rural south east agricultural area of A.Konduru, Andhra Pradesh, India, a group of women came together and decided to change their community.  They started simply doing something they already knew they could do well, enlisted the help of a woman with experience starting and running a business, and launched an endeavor called a.ku designs.  Their goal?  Start a school for their children.  One that was in their community, that wouldn’t require sending their children away and would include English language instruction, the business language of India.  A school that could help stop the cycle of poverty their community has been steeped in for generations.  A school that could offer their sons options instead of being bonded to the brick factories.  A school that could step in the gap as a way of preventing the sex trafficking of their daughters into brothels in the cities of India.  This school was their dream.  Their hope.

With the average income at $2.00 a day, job creation would break the cycle of poverty and provide hope for the future.  For these low caste families, many live in a round mud hut with a thatched roof and a dirt floor. The caste system has been banned but people still practice it. This prejudice holds people back from reaching their social and economic potential.

The women created a 5 year business plan for a.ku designs and got to work sewing and selling.  Their product made it to the other side of the world and with it their desired goal to the ears and hearts of a few people.  And instead of 5 years it took just one.  The A. Konduru village school opened on June 10, 2013 for grades 1-3 with 50 students, 30 of which were on full sponsorships.

Ride for Refuge International Teams

When a group of determined mothers come together amazing things happen.

Every once in a while I have to awkwardly look at The Leaky Boob and ask “is this really what I want it to be?  Am I being responsible with what I’ve been entrusted with?  Can I do better?”

More often than not I’m unsettled by the answers to these questions.

It is an incredible honor and a privilege to be a part of any aspect of your life and your journey, even if for just a moment, one article, or one Facebook post.  There are times where this is overwhelming and I want to run away and shut it all down.  Not only is it time consuming, it can be completely intimidating and at times, exhausting.  I have been attacked, mocked, questioned, and have discovered a political side to all this I had never anticipated.  I’ve even been accused of distributing child porn (AKA breastfeeding images) and called a pedophile (for breastfeeding my daughter past 12 months).  Sometimes I really want to quit.  But The Leaky Boob is also deeply satisfying and when I step back from my own insecurities and headache I see something I believe in and love.  I even think it’s important.  There’s no way I could walk away.  No way.

But can I do better?  Oh yeah, much better and I am grateful to have wise counsel and good friends that have become a team advising me how to do so.  Am I being responsible with it?  To an extent, yes but not enough.

I believe The Leaky Boob can make a difference, in fact, I believe that in the 3 years since starting TLB, it has made a difference.  Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined the impact the little blog I started would have in encouraging and supporting families starting out or in being a voice to normalize breastfeeding.  Now, even I can’t deny that is the case.  I have no idea why and I’m an unlikely candidate to be in this position yet here I am.  With you.

This isn’t about changes coming to TLB, though there are some on the horizon.  This is about something else close to my heart because while I love supporting breastfeeding moms and the people that support them, I’m also very passionate about making a difference in the world as a voice for the voiceless and I want to use the voice I have here to invite you to join me.  Outside of The Leaky Boob I work with an organization leading a global movement to bring artists together to speak up for the oppressed.  As part of that movement I share these stories and opportunities with you because I know first hand just how much influence a determined group of mothers can have.  As a mother I unite myself with these mothers because I know their heart and just as I’m deeply connected with the community of TLB because of breastfeeding, I’m connected to these women as their desires and determination resonate in my mother’s heart.

a.ku designs women at sewing machines

The mothers of A. Konduru inspire and humble me.  When two of my children were sexually assaulted I wanted to run away and hide with my children forever, getting through each day was overwhelming.  These women come together, risk it all, and make their world a better place in the face of oppression that would crush me.  They are my heroes.  They are not cowering, they are changing their world.

What does it look like?

Today with the help of supporting organizations, A. Konduru has a plan to transform their community even beyond the school.  This transformation will come from the community itself by intentionally working with government leaders, social workers and pastors in the community. Developing local business opportunities and education opportunities; bringing jobs to the community, lifting many from the oppression and poverty they live under daily. These efforts are enabling families to obtain proper food, receive needed health services and to live farther from the marginalized edge of hunger, sickness, slavery, and prostitution. a.ku designs will put back into the community using their profits for education in Grace School, taking a lead role and model community transformation.  Change will also come through community education in vocational, business and wellness training.

I have no doubt they will continue to succeed.

I want to be a part of it.

Do you?

__________________________

In January, 2014, The Piano Man, Earth Baby, Sugarbaby, and I are going to see first hand with a group of artists the transformation happening in A. Konduru.  With a group of artists we are going to celebrate the school, encourage the faculty, connect with the community, and gather stories to share.

To support these efforts and help raise awareness and funds to support these inspiring mothers on the other side of the world, I’m joining them as I can right now by getting on a bike and riding to raise funds and awareness, as I shared before.  Come join me outside of Chicago on October 5, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. with your bike (or stroller and walking shoes) at International Teams, 411 W River Road, Elgin, IL 60123 and ride with me then hang out for lunch after.  If you can’t join me you can ride where you are that same day and time, share this post with others, and/or contribute and help me reach my goal of raising $18,000 as part of the Initiative 31.8 Ride for Refuge team.  Go HERE to sponsor me in the ride.  All funds raised go to support the work of International Teams bringing people together to help the oppressed.

__________________________

 a.ku designs model

a.ku designs brown bag

a.ku designs two bags

a.ku designs green and black floral bag

To help me reach my goal of raising $18,000 with the Initiative 31.8 Ride for Refuge team (and hopefully surpass it), The Leaky Boob is giving away 3 a.ku designs bags.  (Please note, items are handmade, each unique and imperfect.  The bags pictured in this post are just a representation of the work, the bag each winner receive will be unique.)  Use the widget below to be entered and hurry, this giveaway ends the night of Monday, October 8th.  Sorry, at this time, entries only available to those within the USA and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share

Comments

  1. Jeri Thurber says:

    I have mostly seen mothers and fathers coming together to help their community through social media and raising awareness about oppressed children and adults. This awareness has brought seemingly small changes to me and my friends, like only buying fair trade chocolates and not shopping from companies that do not support worker safety laws, but these “small” things add up. And they are a place to start.

  2. erica reed says:

    what an inspiring story!

  3. Diana L says:

    great project to support!

  4. Laurie Snow says:

    I have seen mothers and fathers come together to get the school systems changed. The schools have been forced to consolidate together to theoretically save all the towns money, but it doesn’t seem to be working that way. It seems that the administrations are now controlled by people in other communities who don’t have any real connection with the communities the schools are actually in. Many parents are bonding together to get that changed, to get the control back into the communities the schools are actually a part of, and to better support their children from a closer perspective.

  5. Jessica says:

    Thank you for sharing this and doing this fundraiser. Their story gives me hope and inspires me and I’d like to help however I can.

  6. Jessica says:

    My community is an example of parents coming together to create change. 10 households started a cohousing community several years ago and now it’s a wonderful family friendly, safe and supportive place to live. http://Www.libertyvillage.com

  7. Kate says:

    Thank you for The Leaky Boob and thank you for making this world a better place for everyone.
    Is there a place these bags could be purchased? I’d love to also support these women.

    • theleakyb@@b says:

      Great question, Kate. They currently don’t have a way to sell online other than their Facebook page, but that is a part of their plan. The funds are needed to help make that happen but it is in their goals for the next couple of months. For now though, you can like their Facebook page for opportunities to purchase. Thank you! ~Jessica

  8. These are beautiful woman and beautiful bags. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  9. In our community we are working to make breastfeeding more socially acceptable in local businesses and in hopes of bringing the breastfeeding rates up. We have a lot of teenage parents so we are hoping that by becoming a more breastfeeding friendly town this will help them see that it is normal.

  10. Thank you for all that you do!

  11. Alexis says:

    This is a wonderful cause.

  12. Ruth says:

    Co-operatives are a fabulous way of getting an area out of poverty. Governments don’t like them because they are run for the people by the people and the profit doesn’t financially benefit the economy. Look at the UK’s Government’s disdain for food banks, trying to blame the individuals who used them for the suffering of austerity implemented by the government’s hand. These are not just third world problems and I hope that by seeing this blog post people in the developed nations are given hope that they too can beat poverty and classism by coming together.

  13. Cavell Verhulp says:

    I’ve seen it in massive fundraisers in a small community without a playground for their children. They spent a year raising funds and on a rainy day in August had the grand opening of the most awesome playground I’ve seen in a community of 300 people. All bought, payed for and assembled by the parents’ and supporters. It was fantastic.

  14. Katie says:

    Beautiful bags!

  15. Sunni F. says:

    My city had a birth rally recently to change the over medical way birth is viewed. It was nice to see a surprising number of men there supporting the women.

  16. sherry moore says:

    Not personally I have not. I have seen blogs that will support certain causes for their children or children they have met.

  17. Alicia says:

    Great post! Thank you for sharing. The biggest way I see parents making a difference in their community is by teaching their children to take care of people in their area. I know a lot of parents who take their children to do charity work with them. Things like this really break my heart so I’m looking for a way for my family to get involved too so I really appreciate this post.

  18. Stephanie says:

    What a beautiful story!

    I’ve personally seen mothers and fathers band together to create healthy, happy birth environments for their families. These were mostly first-time parents who were fearful of birth, but had the support of several other families in the same position to get them through it. From crunchy, natural homebirths to scheduled c-sections, we all had wonderful birth experiences and, best of all, lifelong friends after knowing each other and going through it all together!

  19. Kat says:

    Parents in our community have come together to better school lunches, start school gardens, and improve play structures throughout the city.

  20. Vikki Brewster says:

    What an inspiring story. These women are doing great things. It makes me feel like I can do anything I want to if I just put my mind to it.

  21. I’ve seen lots of stories about how microloans can completely lift a group out of poverty. What this woman started is absolutely fantastic and I love it! I also love the bags – they are so beautiful.. :)

  22. Molly says:

    Thank you for all of the work you do with Leaky Boob and for your commitment to making a difference in the world.

  23. Lindsay says:

    It may not be much, but it’s a start. A couple of years ago, a few women in my town started an online market on Facebook to help moms not only make a few bucks when they need it, but also to help them obtain what they need for their children at a more reasonable price. This same group of women organise mommy sales a couple times a year, usually with a door price that goes to help the community

  24. Jenn says:

    Where I live sex trafficking is a HUGE problem. Behind all our beautiful scenery here in Portland, OR is a super shady underbelly. Starting with a donation of a handful of wedding dresses and a “what am I supposed to do with these” idea, Adorned in Grace started. This organization sells used wedding/formal dresses with the funds going directly to support recovery efforts of those who’ve escaped or been rescued. As well as offering girls a place to learn skills and to feel safe. I am so glad that sex trafficking is finally being talked about and those who have the ability to do something are. It’s a start and I’m glad to see so many people/groups come together to help others.

  25. Lucy S says:

    This is an awesome thing to support! I see mothers and fathers helping the community in many ways. Most recently, the improving birth rally that I participated in

  26. Rebecca Delozier says:

    What an inspiration you are. You are truly amazing to speak up and about this. It is something that many people are not educated about. Thank for for sharing. Much love from Ca

  27. Deanne York says:

    I loved this post. Thank you for finding something we can help with .

  28. Grace says:

    That was very inspiring. I wish I had money to donate to this cause, but I don’t so I will keep you and them in my prayers. I’m a young mother, 21, and I’ve been blessed to be able to breastfeed my almost 8 month old daughter exclusively (how I found your page) and I never knew such love and passion for anyone so deep like her. I have lots of faith that you will be able to help them. I like being able to idols like y’all.
    Everyone needs good idols.

  29. Nichole says:

    I have seen parents lead changes, gathering neighborhood support for new speed bumps for example.

  30. Tracie D says:

    I have seen mothers and fathers come together to help change the school systems. Especially for children with needs. They use the power of social media to get word out. Many times putting other differences aside to help change things for their children. It can be so empowering when they do that. There is strength in numbers and I’ve seen great things when people come together with one voice and stand for their beliefs.

  31. Jessica M. says:

    Unfortunately I haven’t seen mothers and fathers coming together to lead change in my community. I have seen it online (The Leaky Boob and I Am Not the Babysitter) though.

  32. Cassandra Kelton says:

    I have seen parents coming together to form an anti-bullying campaign for school children and to support nursing in public. It is wonderful to see things like this in my community where I grew up thinking my town was nothing but bad news. The sun is starting to come out!

  33. Kristy says:

    I have seen parents come together to bring change to our food system and to work to change the toxic chemicals being included in our personal care products. It has been met with mixed results in California, but awareness is certainly building.

  34. Lora V says:

    I’ve seen parents come together in our small island community in so many ways to help children and families… Most recently many of them came together to organize a fundraiser dinner and silent auction for twins that were born premature whose parents live on our island. The fundraiser raised enough money for the young parents to rent an apartment for the time that they are going to have to be in the NICU, which is about a 10 hour one-way trip from our town. I love our community!

  35. Jennifer says:

    when i was little my mom made the decision to create a cooperative of families that had the same ideals. i got to grow up with people who cared for the environment, were involved in social issues, and raised all of us kids like their own and to be good humans. i wish i could do the same for my son.

  36. Susie M. says:

    Beautiful bags, great organization!

  37. Veronica says:

    I have seen mothers and at her lead homeschooling ops to bring change to their community through education and sharing resources for more individualized learning.

  38. Thank you for sharing this wonderful cause! I believe I’ll do some Christmas shopping here! :-)

  39. Jessie says:

    I have a heart for victims of injustice. A few years ago I was a part of an organization whose goal was to teach inner city men how to be fathers to their children. The thought behind this was that if we could help get fathers back in to the homes of single moms, ones who helped to provide both financially and as examples of what dads look like that we could help to stop the cycles of poverty and abuse. We counselled single moms and spent time with dads finding work and counselling them on what it meant to be responsible for kids they brought in to this world. We also had camps and programs for impoverished kids, provided food and our end goals even included a scholarship I wrote for a 4 year full ride scholarship to college. I miss that work, it was the first time that I ever felt like I was really making a difference. I still see some of “my kids” from time to time, though. In our short time, we truly did make some small difference.
    I love to see other passionate people being world changers, and I look forward to being a part of something again.

  40. Sarah says:

    The power of just one mother is so great the things that she is willing to do for her family but when a group of mothers come to together the difference that they will make is life changing for so many! Thank you so much for sharing such a inspirational story!!

  41. Bethanie says:

    I think mothers and fathers are the best force for change because they have the motivation of helping to shape a better world for their children. In my community, it has been primarily mothers and fathers who have inspired me to reach out to those in need. Globally, it has been the mothers and fathers behind sites like TLB that have helped me to see the changes that I can make as an individual that may make a small difference on a global scale.

  42. Sarah says:

    Wonderful article and so inspirational.

  43. I have seen mothers and fathers come together in support of breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public. It is great to have that kind of network. It can do so much. As well, I have seen mothers and fathers come together to ask for cancer research, awareness and prevention. It doesn’t take much for change.

  44. Melissa says:

    I’m grateful to have a high school friend in Africa who does micro-loans to help kickstart small businesses in her villages. Her pictures, her stories, they’re amazing. Her specialty has been women-owned businesses and the positive impact they’ve made on the community is astounding.

    In my own area, I’ve seen parents band together to fundraise and put in the hours establish charter schools to better not just their own children, but their whole community.

  45. Sandra U. says:

    My city has Mother and Fathers who came together to raise awareness on breastfeeding through the WIC office and the breastfeeding peer counselors. The group got a grant which we took pictures of Mothers with their nurslings and put them on the side of transit buses, along with a catchy phrase so people would see them and breastfeeding could become more socially acceptable. We earned a second grant to be able to put the pictures on buses across our entire state of Arkansas to be displayed for a year so we could expand our bases and raise more awareness. I am proud to have been in this group and my son and I had our picture on the side of a bus. :-)

  46. Melissa M. says:

    I’ve seen parents come together via social media to support new parents in their struggles. It’s hard living in a small community where there aren’t a lot of people my age. Finding those connections and support via social media has been a huge blessing to me.

  47. caroline says:

    Great project to support. Love your page as well and the work you do!

  48. Angela says:

    Living the military life, I see parents coming together to get new parks put in on base, to clean up the parks that we have, and to bring awesome kids’ shows here. Because we all live so close together (three apartment towers, plus some houses for those of higher ranks), we help parent all of the kids, whether on the playground, walking to and from school, or even on the elevators.

  49. Elizabeth Gee says:

    Wow, great story!

  50. Elizabeth Jablonski says:

    Beautiful and inspiring work!

  51. I once saw my dad stand up for what he believed in at church. An outside force was trying to work it’s way in with unscriptural doctrine, and my dad stood up for the truth. I was and will always be so proud of him.

  52. Michelle says:

    I’m truly unobservant and have probably seen parents working together to make society better but I can’t pinpoint any one instance.

  53. Stephanie H says:

    That is so incrediable!

  54. Ashley schroeder says:

    You are such an inspiration!

  55. Taylor says:

    I love what you are doing!

  56. web site says:

    Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came tto give
    it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information.
    I’m book-marking annd will be tweeting this tto my followers!
    Terrific blog and superb design.

  57. Ellie H says:

    I have seen parents and families come together to identify and work to solve specific needs in their communities. In my experience, people will work very hard for causes that speak to them personally.

  58. Shaina Kumar says:

    I am in love with this post! My husband is from India and my mother-in-law found out about their project early on and bought me some of their stuff! I think is is awesome! It is so great of you to get the word out!

  59. Kelsey says:

    I have seen so many inspiring efforts in my community lately. Several families in our church are fostering and adopting children, and the entire congregation has been wonderfully supportive. It’s so exciting to see these kids welcomed into safe and loving homes.

  60. Penny D says:

    I have seen more parents and families come together through social media more often than I have in my own community, but more and more I see social media being used to educate parents and communities on the needs of people living there. It’s a start.

  61. Lynette says:

    I’ve seen families provide a low-fee soccer program for the children of our community. Wednesday nights are the place to be in our village!! It’s a great chance for people to get to know each other and have fun together. I love seeing how many people volunteer to make this program continue year after year.

Speak Your Mind

*

What is 12 + 4 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)