By most estimates, the population of Mumbai ranges somewhere between 14 and 20 million people. That is almost twice the size of New York City. So, what are the chances that I would meet a woman from Houston whose husband works with mine? Evidently, very high.
Today, I attended my first coffee meet-up with the American Women’s Club of Mumbai (AWC). It is the organization that held the charity event we attended on Saturday. Within a few minutes of sitting at a table, I met a woman whose husband’s company, Fluor, is here working on a large construction project for my husband’s company, Reliance. Our husbands know each other. Quite a small world after all.
AWC has two primary purposes. First, it provides a critical support structure for expats (from the US and elsewhere) living in Mumbai. Transitioning from one culture to another can be quite a shock to the system. The women in the group provide effective shock absorbers. They can help guide you to important resources like where to get real hamburger and get your hair cut. Second, AWC supports selected charitable causes. The benefit on Saturday raised more than 5 lakhs (USD 10,000) for the Foundation for Mother and Child Health. Today’s coffee featured a speaker from Mary’s Clan, another of the organization’s beneficiaries.
Mary’s Clan is a male alcohol rehabilitation center in Bandra, near Mount St. Mary’s Church. It has been in existence for about 30 years. Its primary source of funding is private donations, and finding a sustainable means of support is an ongoing challenge. A few months ago, the center started selling waterproof, handcrafted bags. Each bag is produced from concept to completion by the men who stay at the center. From cutting the cloth to sewing the tags, each man can participate in the production process. The profits from the sales go back to the center, enabling the center to find an alternative funding source, while teaching the men a trade in the process.
The waterproof part of the bag is critical during the rainy season, when the increased humidity from the constant rain can damage personal belongings. Needless to say, I bought three.