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Empowered Purchasing

Filtering by Tag: india

Monsoons and Meditation in Mumbai



Monsoons and Meditation in Mumbai Photo from Awakin Circle

The pouring rain of Mumbai couldn’t keep me away from the Awakin Circle meditation held at the home of Sachi. I had heard many wonderful things about the meditation and of Sachi’s family. Even though it this wasn’t the closest meditation in Mumbai, and even though I felt apprehensive venturing out where I knew nobody, I was missing meditation and community, so I decided to go.

I found Sachi’s apartment, sat down and quickly closed my eyes to meditate. I later opened my eyes to see a larger congregation had joined. We awoke to the Japji Sahib prayer of Guru Nanak, which surprised me. I’m from a Sikh family and have always resonated with the teachings of Guru Nanak. So, whereas I struggled with meditation at first, (as I usually do), waking up to hear this prayer felt like a cleansing, a healing.

The meditation topic was about our thoughts and how our thoughts are not private. Read in both Hindi and English, the basic premise is that our thoughts are actually part of the greater collective. People around me shared stories in Hindi and English about how they felt at peace after the meditation. The collective thoughts of everyone in the room had essentially spread, calming us all. One person spoke about the duality of thought: how a person can say one thing, but think another. We learned about having harmony with thoughts, and how our thoughts should be in line with our actions.

When it was my turn, I spoke about the nature of privacy in India, or lack thereof!  Some people laughed.  I elaborated by explaining how extended family units tend to develop their own collective thoughts, and that many kids must struggle maintaining their own thoughts in balance with the collective beliefs of their family. I questioned the origin of thoughts and their qualities. It was an engaging conversation and, afterward, we were served an incredible meal by Shaila Aunty. Even though I’m not a fan of Sambar idli, it was absolutely delicious.

After the meditation, the weather inspired a few folks to sing songs about the rain. In Hindi and even in English, the songs were incredibly joyful, something I’ll never forget.

As with every Awakin Circle, I felt blessed to walk into this community and experience souls of kindness and love. Getting back home and walking in the rain, I couldn’t help but smile and feel thankful for everything I’d experienced.

Kristeen Singh June 17, 2015. Edited by Sim Grewall

Care for the Cause Fashion Show for Chhoti Si Asha


Model Lasy with rHope Clutch made by the women of Chhoti Si Asha  

Care for the Cause organized a fashion show with proceeds supporting impoverished women and children in India.

Care for the Cause, a volunteer organization that strives to alleviate human suffering by raising awareness on social issues, held a fashion show to benefit the Indian nonprofit Chhoti Si Asha (whom rHope also supports). The event took place at AnQi in Costa Mesa.

Models worked the runway! DJ Amit Kotecha rocked the show. We enjoyed beautiful Indian fashion from Prathaa and Khushy Designs. A portion of proceeds benefit Chhoti Si Asha. Check out the photos taken by Mad Guru below.

Event planner, Ajita Chopra brought all of this together with her passionate and energetic volunteers. The entire Care for the Cause team were wonderful and we loved meeting folks like Punita, who in addition to being a Founder of Care for the Cause, works as a nurse and uses her skills to benefit people around the world.

The event benefited Chhoti Si Asha, a volunteer driven nonprofit which builds sustainable livelihoods for underprivileged women & youth in Chandigarh, India. Chhoti Si Asha runs two main programs, The Janta Colony Library, an educational program and library and the Stitch-a-Living livelihood program for women.

rHope, based in the US, empowers artisan groups including Chhoti Si Asha by retooling products and giving women opportunities to participate in trade. rHope sold handmade wallets and clutches made by the women of Chhoti Si Asha at the event with proceeds going to continued support of their Stitch a Living program.

Kristeen Singh (Founder of rHope) and Krishna Dahya (Indicorps Fellow) presented on Chhoti Si Asha. They shared the story of Manju one of the women in the program. She lives in a slum, is uneducated, but able to stitch very well. Working allows her to support her 3 sons and provide them with a chance at a better future. They also spoke about 3rd grader Shubham, who is supported by the library project created by Divya Sooryakumar (Indicore Fellow) of Chhoti si Asha. When Divya met him, he did not know his ABCs or how to count. Thanks to the Library and Educational Center, Shubham learned to counting, addition, subtraction as well as both the the Hindi and English alphabet.

Lastly, a message from Liza Chawla founder of Chhoti Si Asha “Thanks for putting in so much trust in Chhoti Si Asha. The love and trust from people and organizations like Care for the Cause is what keeps us motivated and inspires us to do more. A bow and hugs to the entire team who contributed in putting this show together. Thank you from our entire team.”

New Fair Trade LA bags made by rHope



We here at rHope are so happy to have worked with Fair Trade LA to create customized, stylish  jute bags for them. Partnering with Fair Trade LA was synergistic since we are both about empowering artisans and consumers to purchase products made using fair trade practices.

Sonali shopping, fair trade la, rhope, eco friendly bag, vegan, empowering women


fair trade la, rhope, eco friendly bag, vegan, empowering women

These bags are double sided.  One side has the Fair Trade LA logo and the back has the message “Choose Fair Trade LA Join the Movement”.  The bags are eco-friendly, vegan and sustainable. The bags are made from an organic fiber that is natural and biodegradable.

You can pick up one of these snazzy functional bags at the Fair Trade LA Booth at the Green Festival at the Convention Center Sept 12-14, 2014.


Saroj making fair trade bag

Manju Making Fair Trade Bag


Here you can see the women from our partner organization Chhoti Si Asha making the bags. They had a great time and were happy to earn money to support their families. The  women we work with are impoverished and live in slums in India. Most are uneducated and have less access to paid opportunities. Orders and purchases like these, help the women and their families raise their standard of living in a holistic way through skill training, income generation, financial management, access to health care, and education for them and their families.

Thanks to Fair Trade LA for this order. We hope all of us together, can empower women, enrich the lives of those struggling in poverty and offer hope.  We look forward to seeing you this weekend at the Fair Trade LA booth at the Green Festival!

rHope at Veteran Feminists of America Conference


IMG_1726_web IMG_1708_web

Michele Ceballos Michot and Natalia Ronceria Ceballos

rHope attended the Veteran Feminists of America’s Women and Media Conference thanks to Zoe Nicholson. It was a celebration of second wave feminists who dealt with issues related to sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights  and inequality.  Every woman had an incredible story to share. rHope- Veteran Feminists of America Conference The event focused on Women & Media, with panels such as “Women’s Voices on the Radio” with radio journalists Sonali Kolhatkar, Frieda Werden Maya Jupiter, and Marlene Montanez moderated by Lynn H. Ballen. Research and statistics on the state of women in media were shared. As a result of a severe lack of representation for stories of non stereotypical women in movies or women’s perspectives, media perpetuates gender inequality. Check out this short film by Feminist Frequency on the subject. Additionally, we were treated to an inspiring screening of Jennifer Lee’s “Feminist Stories from Women’s Liberation,” a documentary about the women’s liberation movement in the United States from 1963 to 1970. With each panel and story, we thought about the women that rHope supports with our partner Chhoti Si Asha. These women were born to poverty by no fault of their own. We are glad to stand with them and sell their handmade products. When women are economically and socially empowered, they become a potent force for change. Men and boys are taking a more active role in housework as the women are earning a much needed income, and finding a stronger voice. These women are confident, talented and creative. They are rising up against the norms of what is expected of them and are changing the future for the better just as the wonderful Veteran Feminists of America and others have done in the past and continue to do today.  We are indebted to the struggles of women the world over for basic rights and are honored to play our part in it. Thank you for your support! [nggallery id=9]

Cutest Clutches on the Block!



Check out our printed silk and cotton clutches. The clutch is the ideal companion for daytime or an evening on the town. It compliments jeans, summer dresses, cocktail dresses and more. Having a clutch in hand is a creative way to spice up a pair of skinny jeans and a plain top or the perfect companion for that sexy, black cocktail dress.

clutch Paisley

Hit the town with this colorful printed paisley clutch or grab a touch of blue silk in the evening.



This print is perfect for a walk down the block.  The design was hand crafted from carved wood blocks, printed by skilled artisans in India.


Pick up a silk striped clutch to go with bold and loud colors or as a stand alone piece.

Yes you can wear a clutch during the day! Ditch the big bag on days out, and grab one of our cotton clutches for a chic look. All our clutches have a wrist loop for easy, stylish, carrying. No need for a bigger bag for brunch, movies, museums days, and nights on the town.  Look cute, modern, and minimal with more room for fair trade fashion and fun!


These clutches are handmade by artisan Manju of Chhoti Si Asha. This purchase makes it possible for her to support her 3 children.

Keep checking in with as we keep adding products!


Check out beautiful Elica sporting her green polka dot clutch.