Happy National Crafters Month! I hope you enjoyed our Makers of Color series last month. This month in honor of National Crafters Month we will share stories of makers that knit, crochet, and Tunisian Crochet. To start us off I will introduce you to 16-year-old Neelmani Bagaria and Share a Square a non-profit student-run organization based out of Bangalore, India.
Neelmani Bagaria & Share A Square
Deveter: Namaste Neelmani, thank you for agreeing to share your story with us. Please introduce the audience to Share a Square by telling us how and when it got started?
Neelmani: Share a Square is a non-profit organization based out of Bangalore, India. We are a multi-vision student-run organization. We have 5 distinct goals, to prevent the homeless from the wrath of the winter. To promote the dying arts and the handicraft industry, to remove the stigma around men and handicrafts, to promote sustainability, and to pass the knowledge of these handicrafts to the youth and preventing it from being a thing of the past. Share a Square was founded by 2 extraordinary girls one lazy afternoon who are excellent crocheters. They are extremely talented and great leaders. These youngsters have attracted the best of mind to work for free all while handling school and other co-curricular activities. They have achieved astonishing milestones in record times. We have collected and processed over 2000 squares in less than 9 months and expanded operations across 3 continents with 1 chapter in each the US (Texas ) and Europe (Cyprus) and multiple chapters across India. All of this with extremely limited resources. The Organization was founded in April of 2020 and has a team of 25+ young minds right now. This was achieved without the use of any office space or formalized work environments. These two teens - Sahana and Edha have truly conquered something that sounds impossible and may seem undoable to top-line executives who devote all their effort to one job.
Deveter: This is a wonderful organization and your goals are spot on. I’m happy to see that it’s growing. Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with the program?
Neelmani: I am a 16-year-old boy brought up by a set of very simple and humble parents. I love playing basketball and was bullied quite a bit. Somewhere along the way, I had a paradigm shift where I metamorphosed from an entitled snobby kid to a grateful teen who knew how to count his blessings. My poor experiences as a high schooler fomented a feeling inside of me to make this world a better place. This is when I wandered down the path of self-growth with a burning passion to make a change. There were these 2 girls who were a year senior to me and had started a non-profit organization. I approached one of them and expressed my interest in becoming a part of the team. Soon there was an opening and I pounced on the opportunity. Before I knew it, I was a part of the team and today, 7 months down the line, I manage my own project.
Deveter: Good for you Neelmani it’s great seeing your interest and your pursuit in joining the team. Since Share a Square is a program involving young people, has it been easy getting others interested? If not, what were the challenges Share a Square had to overcome?
Neelmani Share a square is a proud student-run organization. There is no adult that actively participates in the day-to-day operations. Luckily getting people interested wasn't a challenge. There are a lot of students scattered across the world who are interested in the art of crocheting, knitting, and stitching. Share a square is a platform that actively unites and empowers them. There are more than enough of us who really want to make a change. Share a square is steadily growing without the need for inorganic engagement. People who are genuinely interested automatically get drawn and become a part of us.
Deveter: I’m truly impressed! In your opinion what makes share a square different from other blanket-making charities?
Neelmani: I think the biggest difference that makes Share a Square stand out is the fact that it is a student-only affair. Another really lovely difference is that our blankets are hand-made and by a multitude of people. We collect standardized squares from people across the country and collate them to make a blanket. These squares are made with a lot of love since there is no financial incentive. This makes each of our blankets a truly unique creation which is the manifestation of the compassion of all the people who have contributed their time and resources. Right from the stitching of the squares to the last mile delivery.
Deveter: Learning how the organization got started and the individuals contributing truly is impressive. Tell me your favorite memory related to Share a Square?
Neelmani: My favourite memory related to Share a square is when I delivered baby blankets, mittens, and tiny beanies to an orphanage. The sense of fulfillment and gratification I felt can not be explained with words. It was unequivocally the most peace bringing and rewarding event of my life.
Deveter: What a beautiful memory. If you think of a word or phrase to describe Share a Square what would it be?
Neelmani: I think I would describe Share a square as a "Manifestation of compassion and humanity in the modern world"
Deveter: We live in such a mass-produced, buy-it-now society where everything is either a click or a short drive away. Why should people continue to make things by hand?
Neelmani: Honestly there isn't any reason to continue to make things by hand. Machines are faster, cheaper, more efficient, and can do things humans manually can not. What a machine can not do though is to make every single creation special. Machine-made goods can never be made with love. The emotions and time invested by a person to create something out of nothing can never be replicated by huge chunks of metal no matter what. The knowledge of something being handmade is what makes the difference of a world.
Deveter: What a well-thought-out response! I’ll have to share that with everyone I know. Neelmani how can people reach Share a Square?
Neelmani: You can easily get in touch with us through our Instagram handle: @Share.a.square or by logging on to Our website: https://www.shareasquare.org/ . You can also drop a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
To support our cause one can directly contact us and ship squares to one of the many mailing addresses available on the website. We are working on getting a payment gateway infrastructure and you will be able to support us financially by mid-2021. If you would like to support us today, please feel free to reach out to us and someone from our team will get back to you.
Furls Fans, I don’t know about you but I’m inspired by these young people and will definitely share a square with them! Please like, follow, and visit Share a Square social and their website.
I’m Deveter Brown thanks for reading, now get back to that WIP!