It’s only been 3 days but it seems I’ve been here a week already, with the jet lag kicking in and trying to keep me away till 3 am. It succeeded the other night but I had to force myself to sleep as I was up at 4.30 yesterday morning for a rickshaw ride through the sleepy, dusty, dark streets of Delhi to the new railway station across the city.
Landing in Delhi never fails to always put a smile on my face, back in the hustle and bustle of Indian life. It ‘s changed in recent years though, a new airport, new roads, slightly cleaner streets. It does come at a price though as the government push out the homeless without a thought for their well being.
Straight after the hotel, I’m off on the fairly new metro, it’s a bit like the London underground but actually cleaner, for now, and with air con. Mind you, if you thought rush hour in the London underground was busy then you need to try it here. I’m sure everyone gains another 3 inches as you’re all squashed in like a tin of sardines, in fact, the sardines get off easily.
One productive meeting later checking out Indian parasols and cushions and I’m back at the hotel, struggling to stay awake before dinner……. then my brain doesn’t let me sleep until 3 am.
My first full day (see I told you it seems like a week), off to WFTO accredited Tara Projects for an excellent productive day with Puneet. Looking for new products is always a challenge, especially if I’m on my own and not with Claire. I think I do quite well and order some new block prints for the next season, fingers crossed.
New EU legislation means we now need to show confirmation that all our wooden product come from ethical sources, they do anyway but getting this information proves quite easy but difficult at the same time –it’s all in Hindi!!
Yesterday I was off to see Noah’s Ark in a city called Moradabad, a WFTO company that we started working with last year. The train journey starts at 6 am and as the light comes up we pass slums backing onto the railway line and get greeted by the normal 100’s of bums performing their morning rituals. Once past the city we enter the countryside, lush paddy fields and scrubland, the odd cow, donkey and scarpering chickens that run around the small wooden reed roofed huts that sit in the corners of fields, and give much-needed shelter from the sun, and no doubt, at times, the monsoonal rains.
Having been met at Moradabad station by Julius we were off to see the founder of Noah’s Ark, Samuel. An inspirational man with Fair Trade in his Heart. After a tea and a catch-up, I was whisked off to see their new samples. After the initial run of samples, I had the fantastic opportunity to go and see one of their community schools, Asha Kiran, meaning Ray of Hope. They have 3 in total, 2 run as evening classes and the other as a school for children from the ages of 5 to 15. These children, from underprivileged families, wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to go to school, but Samuel and Noah’s Ark have and paid for all their schooling including books, pens, bags, and transport.
This is one of the true meanings of Fair Trade, next time you see two similar products on the shelf, one for £17 and the other for £20 just remember that the extra £3 you have paid has allowed these children to get an education and a chance of a better future, not to mention the fresh water system that has been put into their parents house, the continued work that their producers get, fair wages etc. For those people that are a bit skeptical with Fair Trade please remember that it really does work and change lives.
My next visit was to KH Handicrafts, owned and run by Kamrul Hasan, he has 5 staff and has worked with Noah’s Ark for 15 Years. They make items from recycled bicycle chains and some reclaimed metal. He’s just recently been given low-interest finance by Noah’s ark to extend his workshop. Now he can make more products, take on more staff and change more lives.
A 4 ½ hour car trip back to Delhi brought me to my hotel and ready to reflect on the day and plan for my other 5 am start today.
Now I’m sat in at the lovely Seventh Heaven Guesthouse in the Rajasthani desert town of Pushkar.