Local student’s nonprofit assists India

Project Tasveer is contributing to an effort that helps women learn to sew.

From years of visiting family and participating in community service projects in India, Bishop’s School senior Naomi Deokule wanted to find a way to give back.

“I feel like each time I come back, I always come back with a longing to help,” said Naomi, 17, who lives in Carmel Valley.

She started a nonprofit, Project Tasveer, named after the Hindi word for photo. The organization raises funds by selling apparel, and eventually prints and other items that feature Naomi’s photographs.

“Through my nonprofit, I use photography and graphic design to generate change in India,” she said. “So I basically am just coupling my love for photography and design with giving back.”

During one of Naomi’s visits to India, after suffering a couple trampoline-related injuries, she learned the nearest hospital was two hours away. Upon arriving, she saw how it was in poor condition and overcrowded with patients on floors.

“I’ve been able to give back to specific communities that I personally have a connection with, and I’m able to use my art in creating these products and then selling them and telling these peoples’ stories while also generating funds,” she said.

After creating a website with a store that offers the hoodies and tee shirts currently for sale, Naomi said she spends several hours per week running the nonprofit with help from two friends, one at Scripps Ranch High School and the other at Northwestern University.

Project Tasveer has also partnered with the Sambhali Trust, an India-based nonprofit that assists women who have experienced abuse, violence, oppression, sexism, poverty and related issues, and helps them become more independent. One of its initiatives teaches women how to sew and gives them sewing machines, which allows them to make money making and selling clothing.

“I saw the impact that one sewing machine can have on a woman’s life,” said Naomi, who once volunteered with the Sambhali Trust and observed the sewing lessons it offers.

Project Tasveer’s work has also included a partnership with Creative Sanctuary, a local nonprofit, to offer a virtual art and mindfulness camp for children.

In addition to clothing, Naomi said she wants to expand to selling prints of her photographs. She added that her long-term goal for Project Tasveer is to start a clothing line manufactured by underprivileged women in India.

“That’s definitely a far off dream, but that’s the direction I want to go,” she said.

For more information, visit projecttasveer.org.