When we last spoke with our laureate, Mercy Annapoorni, she was busy empowering 6,000 rural women from the Virudhunagar and Sivakasi regions of Tamil Nadu to seek alternative economic opportunities other than those in the dangerous sex and match industry. As a result of organizing awareness programs, action oriented workshops and vocational training sessions, these women are able to gain confidence, save money and free themselves from traditional labor. WWSF honored Mercy Annapoorni for her mobilization endeavors, and awarded her the 2002 Prize for Women's Creativity in Rural Life.
It has been a decade later, and Mercy's courageous work has not stopped. Today, she is responsible for impacting the lives of over 20,000 rural women through the creation of the Blossom Trust Organization. By utilizing art, culture and development activities, the Blossom Trust Organization empowers the most marginalized groups of society (women and children) to become self-sufficient in improving their health, environmental, economic and social needs. As the director of the organization, Mercy currently oversees the coordination of five development programs targeted towards HIV/AIDS awareness, microfinance, child services, and TB prevention and treatment.
In addition to her daily administrative duties, Mercy serves as the liaison between Blossom's members and the rest of the world. She regularly collaborates with NGOs and other development agencies to lobby for the improvement of the human rights situation in Southern India, as well as to expose Blossom's achievements on a global level.
As with many NGOs, the Blossom Trust's current challenges stem from the lack of adequate funding, resulting in the halt of many pertinent programs. Additionally, programs that are currently in session are financially limited and can only provide support, means and resources to the targeted groups at a basic level. Therefore, Mercy is in search of developing more global partnerships and networks to undertake and support her efforts.
"Please, do not send us direct money," Mercy said. "I want to be able to teach these women how to fish, not just hand the fish over to them. This will have the greatest impact."
In order to best serve the needs of Blossom's projects, Mercy seeks specialized funding partners for capacity building training, microfinance, expertise advice, and projects which can be implemented on a large scale. "It's also important that these projects will benefit and impact all women, not just help one or two".
Finding such specialized partners has become a daily challenge for Mercy and her team, yet they continue to remain optimistic and work within their means.
Amidst these challenges, Mercy pledges that her work will not end until she sees the change that India deserves.
"I find the greatest joy in seeing the lives of these people transformed. It is the most rewarding and satisfying feeling one can receive. Their happiness is honestly, what keeps me pushing."
Mercy can be contacted directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Blossom Trust Organization and its activities please visit the following websites: www.blossomtrust.org.in , and www.educlowns.webs.com www.blossomdayspringhome.webs.com.
Interview with Mercy conducted by WWSF Intern, Aji Famuyide.