A US citizen, Laura Eastman Malcolm, has dedicated her life to working for women’s empowerment across the world. Inspired by Indian-American bead work, Laura now travels across the world to teach designing skills to women in need. A self-taught designer herself, her work has reached places like Afghanistan and even India.

Laura works with widows in Chennai and empowers them with life skills to live an independent life

An art graduate herself, Eastman incorporates her knowledge of colour and art in working with different kinds of designs. Having trained women in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, and Italy, Eastman has even trained them in jewellery designs. Believing that arts and crafts adds some light and colour to the lives of these women, Eastman is now experimenting with beaded work, which is shown in the scarves, shawls, and even accessories that these women make.

Talking to Times of India about the types of beads she uses in her design work, Laura says, “I prefer to work with translucent and faceted beads. They reflect light, and with so much darkness and negativity around, so many people around the world are in need of light.”

In partnership with Sangita Charitable Trust, White Rainbow Project (a US based non-profit) has been helping Laura with her project of empowering widows with life skills. Sangita Charitable Trust has a widow outreach programme and collaboration with other non-profits has helped these women with more opportunities in terms of work.

The White Rainbow Project collects donated saris all across the nation and gives them to the widows in Vrindavan who convert them into scarves, kimonos, tunic tops and are then sold in the US. These widows also work on making jewellery out of beads and paper, which is again sold in various markets.

The partnership between White Rainbow Project and Sangita Charitable Trust started about five years ago

Not just widows, women who are ‘at risk’ because their husbands are alcoholics or drug addicts are also helped by this Trust.

Another instance of help coming from outside the nation can be witnessed in the villages surrounding Bodh Gaya. A French national has come to the rescue of hundreds of young girls who are affected by poverty and unemployment. Starting a school for young kids in the villages near Bodh Gaya, these kids have been able to get an education to sustain themselves for years to come.

Efforts like these go a long way to make the world a better place.

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