A Mela in Sri Lanka
"Life is like a carnival (Mela). The cotton candy are all the sweet things in your life"....goes the adage.
The WMO Far East Chapter Ladies Wing certainly brought the carnival to the city and everyone was invited to join in on the festivities of the most fun-filled event on the Colombo Memon calendar.
The Mela was an elaborate celebration bringing together people of all ages. The community members mingled freely and spent a leisurely evening, basking in each other's company.
On the 2nd of March, a sizeable crowd gathered at the sprawling Women's International Club on 16th Guildford Crescent in Colombo. Several tents were pitched up across the manicured lawns, there was a bouncy castle for the kids, the food stalls had a large spread including Memoni food, traditional akhni, chana batata, paani puri, sinful deserts and several mouth-watering delicacies. The children were entertained with games, rides, balloons, popcorn and face painting while the ladies bonded over the appetizing food.
The Mela served another important purpose. Empowerment of women belonging to the marginalised sections of society has been one of the most essential humanitarian services provided by WMO over the years. Thousands of women in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been nurtured and trained to cultivate special skill sets that enable them to earn a livelihood, provide for their families, afford an education for their children and ensure a life of dignity.
The Mela was another important endeavour by the Far East Chapter Ladies Wing to empower women by organising an exhibition cum fun-fair wherein enterprising ladies belonging to all segments of society could display their wares. From clothes, jewellery, food items, cosmetics to purses, perfumes, toiletries and hairpins; all items were neatly displayed on around 50 stalls at the venue.
Being a Saturday and a holiday, families arrived in full-strength and the stalls emptied in a couple of hours with all items being whisked away by the jostling crowd of eager women and children. The exhibition was a roaring success with the women entrepreneurs receiving a platform to not only sell their items but connect with suppliers and stockists who invoked interest in their goods and placed much larger orders.
"Feeling entitled to make your own decisions creates a sense of empowerment," states Mrs. Shazia Sangani (Chairperson WMO Far East Chapter Ladies Wing), "this exhibition has encouraged the ladies, it's commercial success has boosted their confidence and endorsed their decision making abilities."
"There is no greater force than a woman determined to rise. As we all rise by lifting others through these entrepreneurial initiatives, " concludes Mrs. Gulshan Ashraf, the radiant wife of Mr. Ashraf Sattar (Deputy Chairman WMO Board of Trustees) who was the driving force behind the thoughtful initiative. Mrs Ashraf, along with the entire ladies wing of the Far East Chapter truly epitomize the adage of strong women empowering other women
As the sun set over the Sri Lankan coast, old friends connected over a cup of hot tea, new friendships blossomed and the genial camaraderie brought cheer to a picturesque evening in Colombo.
"Life is sweet but friends make it sweeter," quipped a child, as she took another eager bite off her friend's candy floss.
That sums up a very memorable evening in Colombo as the organisation has yet again achieved its objective of fostering friendships, building brotherhood, strengthening relationships and bringing the community closer together.