Crikey, the last 5 days have gone quickly and I’m finally over the jet lag!
I’m currently writing this sat on the top of the Jagat Niwas Hotel in Udaipur overlooking the majestic Lake Palace Hotel – it’s the hotel that’s featured in Octopussy, and they don’t let you forget it!
Since my last waffle, 5 days ago, I’ve been to Tilonia, a small village and a craft NGO in rural Rajasthan and the amazing organisation that makes our recycled rag rugs. I always look forward to visiting; it’s run by incredibly dedicated people and has an amazing story.
Tilonia is the craft arm of The Barefoot College, a non-governmental organization that has been providing basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities for more than 40 years, with the objective of making them self-sufficient and sustainable. These ‘Barefoot solutions’ can be broadly categorized into the delivery of Solar Electrification, Clean Water, Education, Livelihood Development, and Activism. With a geographic focus on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), they believe strongly in Empowering Women as agents of sustainable change.
The main campus has a post office (with e-payments!!), telephones, a radio station, craft shop, workshops for women to learn how to make solar lights, a library, puppet theatre and much more. Check out their website www.barefootcollege.org that will explain it far better than I can.
What makes the placed more incredible is that it’s entirely run by solar (most of the roofs have solar panels on them)
I was taken on a visit to the campus where our rugs were made and met the women who made them. I was also introduced to the ladies who make the incredible solar cookers which run, as you’d expect, totally on solar power. It’s an ingenious project, run totally by a women’s group who designed and make the cookers. This provides a much-needed saving on fuel costs. It can boil a 1l litre of water in 8 minutes. They have even got a clock mechanism on the back that is so accurate that it moves with the sun during the day!! Obviously, it can only be used during the day, no good for evening BBQ’s! The campus is also mainly run by solar power.
We picked up a few more different types of rugs as well as some larger bell totas so keep your eyes peeled for new additions to the website.
My final day in Pushkar was slightly more relaxed and was spent choosing some new scarves from a good friend of ours for the summer festivals we do.
The next day involved a 6-hour train journey to the magical city of Udaipur, sometimes called the “Venice of the East”, where we get most of our journals and albums made. It was a lovely journey through the Rajasthani desert, past lakes, small villages, remote train stations and views of colourful Rajasthani people going about their day.
Yesterday was very productive, we’ve been developing 5 new styles of leather journals and photo albums, much thicker and chunkier leather than we currently sell and will be boxed and will come with a keep safe cotton bag.
Today took me to Sadhna; another Fair Trade company that has the difficult job of helping me design some scarves. I’m happy with journals but fashion?? Ask anyone I know and fashionable probably isn’t a word that would be used to describe me! I think I did quite well though, with the help of Manjula, the creative designer. Looking forward to seeing the samples tomorrow!