On December 19th our group went to Pondicherry to visit several NGO’s, one of them being Sahodaran. Sahodaran is a male sexual health project however, the organization also touches on all members of the LGBTQ+ community. Here we were greeted and spoken to by Sheethal, a transgender woman who has been a part of Sahodaran for several years. She talked to us about what it is like being a transgender woman here in Pondicherry and the hardships that those in her position face. She emphasized one of the hardest and most impactful parts of being transgender, that being the family shame and exile. This is why, not only in India, but it is also so hard for those who may feel they may want to join this community, to do so. This results in large suicide rates as well as misinformation being spread throughout communities on the topic. Sahodaran tries to prevent this with several different services that inform about STDs, and even give shelter to those who may have been kicked out of their homes. Transgender rights are a focus of Sahodaran because unlike sexual orientation, it is impossible to hide. Due to this, members of the transgender communities have a harder time participating in society and are more likely to be discriminated against, commonly (in Pondicherry) with violence.  


On December 22nd our group headed to the soda company Kajimba. Its location was right in Auroville, and as we entered the company grounds, we saw some familiar faces, some of the kids our age who we had met days prior at the visitor’s center. This is because unlike many of the other NGO’s within Auroville and Pondicherry this company was started and is run by youth! From their social media specialist to the company’s creator, Nahar, it was impressive to see so many late teens and young adults in charge in a business. Kajimba was created in 2020 however it has only been selling since 2021. Nahar spoke to us about the important elements that must go into his sodas brand such as shelf life. He explained that within stores and restaurants, products must have a shelf life of at least several months, and he struggled with his recipe as his sodas soon turned to a vinegar like substance after a few weeks. But after lots of trial and error, Nahar found his perfect recipe, and Kajimba (which is just a form of ginger beer) has six flavors. Nahar also spoke with us about the business side of Kajimba, specifically the financial side. His form of business is somewhat simple, as Kajimba makes more money in sales, that money goes directly back into the company’s growth. Due to this, his income as well as his workers will remain stagnant until they choose (if they do) to stop growing. However, with dreams of reaching all the way to Chennai, this does not seem to be happening anytime soon! On top of this, the brand is only beginning. While visitng the Kajimba grounds we were able to test several oat milks that were in the making and hear about Nahars plans to release the product when he feels he has found his perfect mix. Kajimba is a great representation of what Auroville has to offer specifically to its youth, with real work experience right within the town, it is an exceptional opportunity to see how a business operates.