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Shaw Hospitality Group Touched by Stories of Women in India

During a two-week design exploration of India, Shaw Hospitality Group designers sought ancient crafts made as they were centuries ago. The result of the travels was  the award-winning collection, Design Journey: Cloth & Stone.

Along the way they become one with the places they journeyed, immersing themselves in scenes that were ancient and modern, familiar and completely foreign. Shaw Hospitality Group design manager Maria Scott was especially touched by the daily lives of women in a remote village in Nimaj, Rajasthan.

“Seeing the women in their bright clothes and heavy gold jewelry carrying water vessels on their heads seemed an expected, almost stereotypical, image.  Each morning they trek to the center of the village to gather the water they will need for the day, “ Maria said. “However, I never appreciated what physical and challenging lives these women lead until I watched as they helped each other hoist these heavy jugs onto their heads and begin the long walk home.  If their chores demanded more water, then another trip to the village center was required.”

When social entrepreneur Cynthia Koenig learned of the pursuit Indian women face daily to get potable water for their families, she was inspired to create WaterWheel, an invention that allows people to roll water in a 50-liter container across the ground versus carrying it in a 5 gallon jug on their head, as Maria witnessed in India.


After receiving a $100,000 Grand Challenges Canada prize, Koenig founded Wello, which is piloting the WaterWheel in rural India.

According to the Wello website, people living in developing countries worldwide often walk five miles daily to gather water for their families. Carrying these heavy water vessels causes severe pain, spinal compression and complications in child birth. Additionally, the WaterWheel has the ability to remove barriers that prevent children from attending school and empowers women to engage in more productive activities that boost their family income, pursue education and general wellbeing.

For more information on donating to the Wello mission of helping people have easier access to water, visit the site or watch Koenig’s TEDx talk

To see more photos from the design team’s travels to India, visit Shaw Hospitality Group on Pinterest.

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