Kaifi Azmi set up the Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) an NGO that works for the empowerment of the girl child and women in rural India through education and employment generation. After he passed away, Shabana Azmi and her goddaughter Namrata Goyal took the legacy forward.
In 2010, Manish Malhotra became an essential catalyst in the story of Mijwan. He adopted the Embroidery Centre, pulled the women out of oblivion and brought their craft of exquisite Chikankari to the doorsteps of Bollywood and the International world of fashion.
Namrata Goyal says, "Nana (Kaifi Azmi) always believed in the youth to be the catalyst for change. We the youth have always taken our lives for granted - almost assumed a sense of entitlement. It's time we take responsibility and realise villages don't belong to another planet. In fact, we are completely dependent on them. They complete us."
Mijwan today is not only a story of the progress of a small village in India, but it's also the story of women journeying on, past the patriarchal conforms of their society. It's the hope for a better tomorrow, beating in the hearts of rural women who have taken charge of their own destinies.
Once, I asked him, “Abba, don’t you get frustrated when change doesn’t occur at the pace you want it to?” He answered with equanimity, “Bete, when you are working for change, you should build into that expectation the possibility that the change might not happen in your lifetime. But you must have the conviction that if you carry on working with dedication then the change is bound to occur – even if it happens after you.” His prophetic words have become my mantra in the work that I do with the weak and the dispossessed.