Fair Trade Travelogue

Visit to Fair Trade Member Organizations

Fair Trade Forum India recently arranged a visit of its communication team to the member organizations. Our team members Sadhna Arya and Amy Mookerji profoundly performed by exchanging the experience from our member organizations, Himalayan Fair Trade Handicraft Pvt. Ltd., Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti at Dehradun and Vande Matram Kunj, Haridwar, divine centre from 28th April to 02nd May, 2015. It was the curiosity that catered to the purpose of the visit. The enthusiasm to know the working of these unique organizations gave easy access to the problems they may face during the whole working year in certain adverse conditions. And also we try to know how we can make their working and life tranquil to give space for more needy members to join hands and have better future. The things that always make us feel satisfied about our growth are what we saw in those women that they are aware of their rights, have economic freedom and independence which also make them work with enthusiasm. And they don’t only keep it to themselves but also spread it to others. One of the primary purposes of the visit was to know these women and to connect with the producers directly. We look into the specific requirements of the organizations and had different interactive sessions, which everyone has eagerly participated. At both the centers we were able to identify the hidden entrepreneurial potential of those women, which gradually has been changing with the growing sensitivity to their roles in the family and also their economic status in the society. Women from different family situations share an incredible determination to improve their livelihood. These women artisans have broken the old rules of sitting at home and being dependent on the income of their husband. They are earning by themselves and living a dignified life. They have become change agents.

Himalayan Fair Trade Handicraft Pvt Ltd: On 29th April team was welcomed by mounting women artisans. Our team member Ms. Amy denoted the gathering by special mention to the gracious organizer Tenzin Gonpo, Executive Director, followed by showcasing the FTFI documentary-Fair Dreams. After explaining the documentary commenced the open discussion by Ms. Sadhna. The artisans actively participated in the direct interactions and shared their experiences in their working with the Himalayan Fair Trade Handicrafts Pvt. Ltd. On the further visit of the floor the content and joy was visible in the ambiance of the hall.

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Talking to them make you feel that how firm they feel about themselves for valuing their skill and money they make. Ms Tsul Tum Dolma, 54 years old artisan says, she joined this organization long back when she came from Nepal. She is grateful for the organization to provide her opportunity to work and support her children also. She added, “I have become independent. It has helped me in recognizing the value of my own money.” This model links the grassroot artisans with world market, which improves the lives of many artisans, most of them are women.

Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti, Dehradun On 30th April 2015, FTFI team visited Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti, Purkal Village.

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Ms Chinni Swamy, the founder of Purkal Stree Shakti, was awarded with BE THE CHANGE-STREE UDYAMITA SAMMAN-2015. She was honoured for her outstanding contribution in women entrepreneurship. She could not reach to Delhi in W4W campaign and so the team reached to Dehradun to honour her. She is empowering hundreds of women and equipping skills in them at the training centre, which helps them to stand independent in this very small village called PURKAL.  These hilly women had no resource for earning and learning. They cannot even go to different places to earn some amount. Economic empowerment is changing the life of many and also helping the new generation to make a path for their life.

“Development and overall growth of artisans and workers in the village is one of our missions. I want to see them independent and working for a better life even if I am not there to support them,” says Ms Chinni Swamy. Beautiful handmade quilts, handbags, laptop bags, smart jackets are their major part of attraction. These women, who had no work and skill till the intervention of Purkal Stree Shakti, are now independent, skilled and self-reliant. About 99 percent women are making a change at international level from Himalayan Fair Trade Handicraft and hundred percent Purkal Stree Shakti can been seen at Purkal Village. Their commitment to build a society free from inequality and oppression is their dream which they are achieving daily. Women are playing a meaningful role in business and growth of the organization and proving that half of the country’s potential talent pool is utilized in a good way. They are beautifying the products with their hands.

Outcome: Team met producers and understood – how they are working and what their needs are. They also discussed the points in which they are facing difficulty and look for help from Fair Trade Forum India.

  • They need posters in Hindi which can be more clear and understandable for the working women group.
  • As per Chinni Swamy, Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti, they need more buyers, they need to participate in more exhibitions and fairs.
  • It is also suggested by Ms Swamy that FTFI should start an online portal for the products of its member organization and make colorful merchandise.
  • Both the organizations suggested that more networking between the member organizations is required.

Team also visited Vande Mataram Kunj, to see the venue for Entry Audit Workshop. It is a nice place in the middle of the jungle, which gives a feeling of being close to the nature.

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