I love creating useful things, feeling beauty, being in nature, loving everything that is alive, the sea, the sky … Loving myself, loving peopleBehnaz Rezaei
We might not know it, but the above quote represents all of us. I had the opportunity to get to know Behnaz and I was truly inspired by her journey and I wanted to share this journey because, again, we might not want to believe it, but we can all make differences for the better
Meet Behnaz Rezaei
Behnaz, an artist of all kinds, explores the world because of her love for nature and people around the world. Her curiosity led Behnaz to experience various different cultures and want to help those in need.
Some quick facts:
- Background: Born in Persia, Nationality Spanish and passion for travelling
- Favourite colour: White
- Education: Bachelors of Fine Arts and Product Design, a Postgraduate in Footwear Design and an MBA
Throughout her journey, Behnaz followed her creative juices to host various painting exhibitions, magical landscapes and multiple portraits in which the essential vitality of nature and the inner worlds converge. This brings me to the project that inspired me most, The Anantapur Project.
The Anantapur Project
During her time with Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Behnaz had the opportunity to travel to Anantapur, India during which she researched, and researched a lot – different materials, traditions, designs, culture, and even local family dynamics. Behnaz stresses the importance of really understanding the local culture before anything –
When she returned to Barcelona, she started thinking on how she can help
“Everything starts with us exploring a problem, and then find the solution. People struggling with violence, gender differences, hunger, children and families, the environment, contaminations, finance crisis, poverty, immigration, health, water problem, war, agriculture and SO many more!”Behnaz Rezaei
Behnaz returned to Anantapur with an idea in mind. To recycle every single part of a tire, to design footwear. It didn’t end there! Behnaz decided to work with women of Anantapur, to empower them to earn a living independently while taking care of their families. A lot of the times, in rural areas, women are usually housewives and may not have a say in many matters – but Behnaz wanted to change that.
Throughout The Anantapur project, Behnaz designed a variety of shoes with her team while training them to design as well. Behnaz designed the footwear for her team to sell, while also learning the process, providing a consistent income.
Considering the high volumes of trucks, and automobiles, tire waste is a huge concern that needs to be addressed. Tires are a challenging source of waste because of the large volume itself, the durability of the tires and the components of the tire that could be harmful to our environment and our groundwater.
Behnaz decided to address the problem, the solution being designing footwear from all parts of the tire.
Gender Discrimination and Women Empowerment
In rural areas, it is mostly expected that the husband is the source of income. Behnaz wanted to change this societal norm and gathered women to join her team. Her team increasingly learnt how the process worked, and soon were able to make their own footwear designed by Behnaz. Today, Behnaz’s team are fully empowered and self-sustained, creating their own income streams for their respective families.
Empowering these women to be part of something different was a huge accomplishment, not only for Behnaz, but for the local population itself . Think about all the ideas and flow of knowledge we are limiting with societal norms! Do what makes you happy –
Adopt A Child Program
Behnaz wanted to help even more. She had personally been witness to the many problems that face less-developed countries today. For a small amount per month, Behnaz adopted a child from a local family.
What this means in summary, an amount of money is sent to the family to support their needs.
Behnaz immersed herself into the local community to create a meaningful relationship which is essential if we want to make a change. It is important to note the beautiful differences between all of us, in terms of cultures, languages and traditions, but we are all human beings.
”All of us, as human beings are the same, we have the same stamp. It is important for each of us, how we form our stamp and the different ways we can have an impact. We leave on stamp only, and we need to make the most of it“Behnaz Rezaei
What we can learn:
We can all make a difference in our own ways – we need not be at leadership roles, or influential positions. We all have our networks and people around us at all times, people we directly and indirectly interact with, and any positive changes you make impacts those around us and more!
Do not limit yourself and do what makes you happy! What really applies here, as cliche as it is, Be The Change You Want To Be!