‘Tis indeed the season of giving. Borivali resident Cassandra Nazareth has hit upon the perfect way to celebrate Christmas — helping an employee become financially independent.
Sumi has been working as a domestic helper at Cassandra’s home for almost 16 years. And now Cassandra is helping Sumi set up her own business. As an independent woman herself, Cassandra — who has been running her own business for 20 years — understands the need for women for be able to support themselves.
Their relationship is a close one, marked by mutual love and respect.
Sumi was a great help when Cassandra’s children were young. The trust that was built during the early days of their relationship is still strong, and Cassandra believes that, by helping Sumi with her business, she is only doing the right thing.
“This is totally Sumi’s business,” says Cassandra, “I just do the networking.”
Sumi now has a stall set up in IC Colony, Borivali where she cooks and sells, among other things: marzipan, potato chops, and barbecued chicken.
“When she first came from the village, she could hardly even boil tea. But she started working with my mother and learned lots of recipes. I noticed that Sumi was very good at cooking. It was something that came naturally to her. She still works alongside my mother,” says Cassandra.
Through word-of-mouth, the continued patronage of shops, and the sale of items to passers-by, the business is doing well.
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Cassandra has been by Sumi’s side during every step of her entrepreneurial journey — from planning the business to the nitty gritty of taking orders, preparing the food, and packaging.
Sumi says that Cassandra took her in like a sister; trusted her like one. Cassandra agrees that Sumi is like family, and has all the support that family is entitled to.
Sumi maintains the business through the revenue it generates; it is fully self-sustaining. Besides the culinary setup, Sumi also plants and grows seeds on the terrace garden in Cassandra’s house. She occasionally sells the plants as gifts. A bouquet of capsicum plants instead of roses, for instance.
“I noticed that she’s got a green thumb,” Cassandra says, about Sumi’s impressive work with the rooftop plants.
With Cassandra’s help, Sumi now also owns land back in her village — another impressive step towards financial independence.
With perceptive insight into the nature of things, Cassandra said that she knows she won’t be around forever; Sumi needs to be able to support herself.
The impression one gets from speaking with Cassandra is that helping others isn’t something she glorifies — she believes that it is only the natural thing to do.
“I believe that God puts you in a place for a reason,” she says.
The relationship between Cassandra and Sumi is heartwarming, inspiring, and bursting with Christmas spirit. Here’s to many more such friendships.