Blue Mango Trust is a training and income generation program for village women in Tamil Nadu, South India. Their goal is to provide an infrastructure that gives marginalized women a chance to gain financial self sufficiency in a supportive and healing environment. Blue Mango gives priority to women who have minimal support and few options: women affected by AIDS, loss of a spouse, physically disability, and domestic and sexual abuse. As the women gain confidence, take home good earnings, save for the future and embrace ownership in the program, feelings of hopelessness subside and a sense of empowerment takes root.
Blue Mango has grown from four women with treadle sewing machines in an old silkworm shed to a successful, sustainable business run by and for marginalized women in southern India. The women undergo transformation, like the mango that has a blue tint before ripening to a sweet golden yellow. The use of recycled materials in their products symbolizes their ideals: to find usefulness in cast-off things.
All profits are reinvested to improve business and the quality of life of women like Panchavaranam, part of the Blue Mango family, for over a decade. Widowed at 20 only to lose her newborn daughter to pneumonia a year later, Panchavaranam did not know where to turn. She found work and training at Blue Mango in 2005. "Decisions are based on our needs... they bought a bus because it was difficult to get to work; started free yoga classes because our bodies were tense from the machines. We were not eating well so they created a subsidized canteen for only 4 rupees a meal...In the midst of all my sadness, I have found some peace here."