By Susan Moir
A dear friend of Tradeswomen Building Bridges, our sister Radhika of Kerala India, lost her husband Prakesh very suddenly to a heart attack on August 11. Radhika and Prakesh have two children. Their daughter, Nayana, is in her first year of nursing studies and their son, Nithin, finished his high school studies this year with very high marks while also assisting his father in fishing and farming.
Radhika and Prakesh worked together as paddy farm laborers in the backwaters of Kerala. Paddy workers only work six months out of the year. In 2007, Radhika learned that the Archana Women’s Centre was training women to become masons. She completed the training and, in 2008, she was part of the team that built Archana’s new centre in Vettimukal. She very soon took charge of the project and became the Head Mason. Since that time, she has become a trainer of women masons and has given training throughout Kerala and in other states in India.
I met Radhika on my first trip to Kerala and Archana in 2015. My new friend, Thresiamma Mathew, the Director of the Archana Centre, asked if I would like to visit a house being built by a women mason. Of course I would.
We drove over bridges and along canals until we reached a place where Prakesh and Radhika could pick us up on their boat.
We rode through the backwaters until we reached their house, the house that Radhika was building herself with her husband as her helper. I met her children and we ate mangos as she showed me the process of building a house of cement blocks on water.
I next spent time with her in January 2019 at the “International Conference on Making Non Traditional Livelihoods (NTL) Work for the Marginalised” in Delhi. Radhika joined women from across India and from Brazil on a panel of tradeswomen describing their experiences.
In November 2019, Radhika was one of the women of Archana who hosted the Second Tradeswomen Building Bridges Delegation.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Radhika and her children at the loss of their husband and father. If you would like to make a contribution to the family and to the work of Archana in training women for family-supporting work in the skilled construction trades, please send a check to Noreen Buckley (Tradeswomen Building Bridges Treasurer), 1675 Oakdale Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124.