February 2020 – A Journey to Women’s Empowerment: South India

February 2020 - A Journey to Women's Empowerment: South India

 18th Jul 2019 |  Travel |  Fritha Mason


An Invitation

We are delighted to invite you to join our second Journey to Women's Empowerment in South India, taking place in February 2020.

Wednesday 5 February - Thursday 13 February 2020

Like our first customer trip to South India, this promises to give a back stage pass to beautiful India and offer a unique take on the challenges and opportunities women face.

Over 8 days, we will spend time in cities, towns, rural communities and a protected forest. We will take time to enjoy the company and hospitality of a number of different Secret Projects Maker groups. We will understand the differences in their lives and how the project is having an impact on them both in terms of empowerment and income generation.

Fabric and craft will weave through our journey and cause much excitement through some fantastic shopping trips. We will try our hand at a traditional Indian craft technique, share our own crafting expertise with a group of children and listen and learn about the history of the sari and its symbiotic relationship with the women who wear it.

We have produced this trip with our friend Joseph who has worked frequently with one of the key members of Secret Pillow Project India Team. Together they have hosted visitors from international charities including World Vision and Habitiat for Humanity.

How to Book and Pay

The cost of the trip based on a group of 6 persons is £1,750*. What the trip cost does not include:

  • International flights (travellers will be need to fly to Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru)
  • Travel insurance
  • Cost of tourist visa
  • Drinks outside of mealtimes
  • Purchase of fabrics at shopping stops

If you would like to extend your trip, we can introduce you to a travel agent who who specialises in bespoke travel in India.

Please email travel@secretprojects.org if you wish to reserve a place.

You will be required to make a non-refundable deposit of 41,250 rupees (approx. £438) through PayPal.

The balance for the trip will be requested 3 months before the trip.

*This price is based on twin-room sharing. If you would like to request a single room, then please let us know and we will send you a quote.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Wednesday 5 February - overnight at Royal Serenity

We will welcome you at Bengaluru airport and take you to our hotel. Bengaluru is the home Secret Pillow Project India. The company was registered in 2016 and is located in an up-and-coming area of the city know as Hennur Main Road. Bengaluru is recognised worldwide to be the digital capital, or the 'Silicone Valley' of India. There is a wonderful mix of old and new India living alongside one another. From countless visits to this city, we have made great friends with fabric stores and are familiar with wonderful markets making shopping with us quite a joy. We are lucky to have 3 thriving Maker groups in the city and of course have our awesome Indian team waiting to greet the trip and explain how the heart of our empowerment project operates. Fritha will host the orientation dinner where they will give a detailed brief of the itinerary over a delicious meal.

We are delighted that one of our customers alerted us to a great write-up in The Guardian in April 2018 about this fine city. Read the review here.

Day 2 - Thursday 6 February - overnight at Royal Serenity

Today will start off with a breakfast lecture on Women and India by an expert on the subject. We will visit Secret Projects Production Support and Sewing Unit and Fulfillment Centre and understand how they work on a daily basis. Then we will travel to the busy shopping area of Commercial Street and enjoy a Masala Dosa lunch followed by tea and coffee in one of Bengaluru's best fabric shops. Our friend Gaurav, the shop owner, will give a presentation on the fabrics of India and help you buy fabrics for your own Secret Pillow Collection.

Have a early dinner before taking a short trip to be welcomed into the urban homes of the Maker Groups located in Bengaluru.

Day 3 - Friday 7 February - overnight at Royal Serenity

Today everyone gets to meet the Temple Traveller (comfortable mini bus) which will be our vehicle for the whole trip. Taking us across the state border, (3hrs each way) a day will be enjoyed in Andhra Pradesh at a training centre run by a Catholic Brotherhood. A incredible welcome will be given by one of our Maker Networks. This day is a unique opportunity to understand the challenges fast fashion has on the lives of women in India.

Day 4 - Saturday 8 February - overnight at Jungle Hut

The temple traveller will transport us over yet another state border into Tamil Nadu to Masinagudi (6 hrs). The destination is a stunning jungle resort known as Jungle Hut. Lovely rest will be taken for the rest of the day and dinner and a bonfire will be enjoyed.

We will travel down to the internationally acclaimed elephant and tiger preservation area of Mudumalai and Bandipur. Within these forests live communities of tribal people. They make up 5 maker groups in this area who make up our Niligris Network. Niligris is the name given to the biosphere which sits on the impressive West Ghats mountain range.

Day 5 - Sunday 9 February - overnight at Jungle Hut

Visit four self-help groups all engaged in Secret Pillow Production. Learn about the women's lives and understand their hopes and dream for their children's future. Meet some local children and run a craft workshop.

Day 6 - Monday 10 February - overnight at After the Rains Resort, Wayanad

Wayanad is tropical paradise with covered with tea and coffee plantations. When you travel there (3 hours) you get the feeling you are well on your way to beautiful Kerala. It is definitely a place where you want to wind down the window and let the smell the air, flowers and the forest wash all over you.

Visit Peace Valley Secret Pillow Group for lunch and an afternoon of inquistion where you will see the full range of Secret Project products and be able to sample other local produce. This is also an opportunity to meet a Secret Pillow Group who have moved into the final stage of empowerment.

Day 7 - Tuesday 11 February - overnight at The Green Hotel

Drive from Wayanad to Mysore (3 hours). Mysore is a famous and charming city much loved by everyone who visits. It is well known as the City of Palaces with the best palace at its centre with over 10,000 lights covering the palace and these are turned on every Sunday night. Mysore is famous for silk and there is a large silk factory at its heart. Mysore offers an opportunity to understand more about the deeply complex society of India.

When we arrive, we will have dinner in Mysore, visit the palace and spend the evening shopping.

Day 8 - Wednesday 12 February - overnight at The Green Hotel

For our final day, we will visit the silk factory in Mysore and a shelter for girls rescued from situations of human trafficking. We will visit their beauty parlour and have an authentic henna experience.

Day 9 - Thursday 13 February

Drive from Mysore to Bangalore for your international departure.

Opportunities

Have your very own bespoke Secret Pillow made by one of our Makers.Experience a wide range of different shopping experiences from high street stores to ancient flower markets. You will not believe how much you can shop in one week!

Travel backstage through four South Indian states.

Visit a rural community in Andhra Pradesh to see silk production first-hand.

Learn the story of the sari and how it is woven into the everyday life of Indian women.

Eat delicious South Indian cuisine - have a daily masala dosa!

Enjoy being covered in Henna!

More

We are very glad to be part of #shopethicalinstead

We are very glad to be part of #shopethicalinstead

#Shopethicalinstead campaign This powerful campaign encourages people to support, small, ethical, and sustainable businesses and vote with their . . . wallets for a better world. The 2022 Christmas campaign is focused on making it easy to buy good gifts from ethical small businesses, just like Secret Projects. We are proud to be a part of it. The impact The campaign reaches thousands, if not millions of people and provides small businesses with a wonderful platform to shout loudly about the enormous benefits of supporting this particular sector of businesses. Do watch out for our posts about this campaign over the coming weeks and enjoy shopping for your gifts this Christmastime. View our Ranges of clothing and homeware produced with love by our Makers in India here.
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Journey with us to Eastern India to the Heart of Secret Projects - 21st-30th November 2023

Journey with us to Eastern India to the Heart of Secret Projects - 21st-30th November 2023

Let us show you our India... Travel with us to our beloved India and experience this glorious country the Secret Projects way!  Join us in Eastern . . . India for a special journey to the heart of Secret Projects for 10 nights from 21st -30th November 2023. Book by 31st December and receive a 10% Early bird discount Important information: The beginning of our journey together Our journey together begins in Kolkata on Tuesday 21st November with a welcome dinner at 8pm local time. Please arrive in good time to join us at this special meal to celebrate the beginning of our time together.  If you would prefer to arrive in Kolkata the day before (20th November) to give yourself time to relax before the Secret Projects journey begins the following day, please let us know and we will arrange for an extra night to be added to your hotel booking. Please note: there will be an additional charge for the extra night's accommodation. On the final day of our journey together We end our journey together as we began, in Kolkata, this time with a goodbye dinner on Thursday 30th November at 8pm local time. We stay on this final night in our hotel and depart the following morning (1st December) to catch outbound flights home or, to continue your time in India. Again, if you would like to remain at the hotel for further nights, please let us know and we can make the arrangements. Please note: there will be an additional charge for the extra night's accommodation. The full itinerary and other information can be found below. We are absolutely overjoyed to warmly invite you to join us on our first post-pandemic Customer Trip.  A journey to the heart of Secret Projects in Eastern India. Our Customer Trips are very much part of the fabric of Secret Projects and we feel honoured to be able to share our story and provide our Shareholders, Customers and Friends with an opportunity to visit the beating heart of our business. Great thought and care have gone into the itinerary to ensure that our travellers experience India both on and off the beaten track in all her glory. You will be immersed in the colour and vibrancy of this wonderful country as you travel between the bustling city of Kolkata that teems with life and The Sundarbans, a World Heritage Site and one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. Travelling with Secret Projects takes you far beyond the realms of the average tourist. Of course, you will have plenty of opportunities to see the sights, savour Indian food and immerse yourself in all that India has to offer. Yet Secret Projects takes you deeper into a side of India not seen by many, as you visit our Maker Group in the Sundarbans, and witness first-hand the working relationship we have with a group of local women who stitch for us and the impactful NGO that supports the women. We absolutely can’t wait to introduce you. We will also meet up with one of our oldest friends, Molly who runs her own sewing unit for young women and was an integral part of the production of our now-famous Secret Sari Dresses. You will witness first-hand how sewing productions can drive women’s economic empowerment and see how your investment, custom and support make it possible. Your Hosts We are delighted to introduce you to Banke Ajayi, Secret Projects (UK) Finance Director, Sumathi Sumi, Director of Social Power India, our India sister company and Margaret Ring, our Communications Director of Secret Projects (UK) who will lead the trip, making sure you are well looked after. In the Sundarbans, we will also meet up with Lissy, our Quality Controller for Social Power India. Payment and booking The cost of the Customer Trip is $2,750 per person. (This is based on a group of 12 and includes all internal travel) The following is not included in the cost of the Customer Trip: International inbound and outbound flights Travel Insurance Cost of tourist visa All drinks, both soft and alcoholic during and outside mealtimes Single occupancy rooms. If you would like a single room, we can provide a quote. Payment for your trip can be made in full, or in instalments if more convenient and full details of how to pay can be found here. A booking confirmation will be sent to you via email. We will also provide you with as much useful information as we possibly can in the run-up to your Customer Trip, including our top tips for travelling in India. To book your place or to ask us questions please email: travel@secretprojects.org Just a note: If you are thinking of extending your time in India to explore other regions, we will do our best to support you with this. We may be able to make bookings on your behalf or, suggest other Travel Operators within India. What’s in store... Tuesday 21st November - day/night one: We commence our shared journey with a welcome dinner in Kolkata to provide us with a chance to get to know each other and find our ‘Indian feet.’ Wednesday 22nd November - day/night two: The day begins after breakfast followed by a 3 (or so) hour drive in a Tempo Traveller (that will be at our disposal for the entire trip) to the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans is a truly beautiful World Heritage Site and such a wonderful place to spend time. However, we can’t forget that its remoteness makes it a target for gangs of human traffickers. Women who earn an income are much less likely to fall into the hands of traffickers and that is exactly why we began our relationship with our Sundarbans Maker Group, who you will meet tomorrow, to provide women with fairly paid stitching work, empowering each one economically. Thursday 23rd November - day/night three: We travel together through breathtaking scenery to the area where our Sundarbans Maker Group is based, spending the day with the women and the team behind the NGO that also supports the group. Friday 24th November - day/night four: It’s a busy day today as we meet up again with the Sundarbans Makers, as well as one of our oldest friends, Molly who we have briefly introduced earlier. Molly runs her own sewing unit for young women in a nearby town - she is an inspiration to us. We will also fit in a visit to one of the local markets, taking in the sights and perhaps making a purchase (or two) of something to remind you of your time in this unique region of the world. Saturday 25th November - day/night five: Enjoy a day of leisure today. We have some excellent ideas for you. Perhaps get acquainted with Bengal Tigers (if it’s your lucky day!) on a Tiger Trek, visit one of the local markets for another spot of shopping, or simply relax, read and reflect on your Indian journey so far. The day is yours! Sunday 26th November - day/night six: It’s a day of competition, feedback, and insight for our Makers. We have worked with the women over the year, asking them to stitch products to showcase to you today. Your job is to choose the one/s you feel would be great for Secret Projects to produce with the Makers to sell on the international market. This is a key day for the women and will provide each one with a beneficial understanding of markets and trends. Monday 27th November - day/night seven: It’s back to Kolkata today and after freshening up at our hotel, we visit Mother House, the final resting place of Mother Theresa. A place of great peace and pilgrimage. Tuesday 28th November - day/night eight: Come with us today to Freeset, a Charity with an aim so close to our own hearts, to provide employment opportunities for women affected by human trafficking. We haven’t visited Freeset for a number of years due to the pandemic and it will be wonderful to catch up with this inspirational organisation. We know you will be as affected by their work as much we are. Wednesday 29th November - day/night nine: One can’t visit India without taking a train ride and that’s our job for today, to help you experience the joys of the Indian rail system. Tonight, your hosts take a night off, giving you all an opportunity to dine together in town at a restaurant of your choice. Thursday 30th November - day/night ten: Today is all about finding out more about traditional Indian dress, as we descend upon one of the most famous Saree markets in the city. The colours, noise and vibrancy of this market will live in your memories for many years to come. We end the day with our final meal together – a time to share our memories and highlights of the trip and swap details for keeping in touch. Friday 1st December: Make your preparations to either board your flights back home or continue your journey in this glorious land - both with huge smiles on your faces and a head bursting with new and wonderful memories. Just a note: Although we work hard to follow the itinerary closely, we do want to highlight that it may be subject to change should circumstances change. We will do our very best to notify you of any changes well ahead of time, if possible. And last but by no means least, here is what a couple of our travellers have to say about experiencing India the Secret Projects way... I could never have imagined just how wonderful the trip with Secret Projects was! Upon landing I was given such a warm welcome & immediately felt at home with the rest of the group. The days were wonderfully structured and we saw things I never thought I would experience. Meeting the women in the units was incredibly emotional on so many levels and ultimately so inspiring to see what Secret Projects has achieved with them. I really hope I get the opportunity to go back again someday & I will forever treasure the memories of this trip...❤️ Whitney, Traveller on the Secret Projects 2019 East India Customer Trip We thank you warmly and wholeheartedly for travelling with us to India and ask that you keep in touch with us. We absolutely love seeing our travellers' photographs and reminiscing with you from time to time about our time together in our beloved India. Photo montage: images from our Customer Trip to Kolkata and The Sundarbans 2019  
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Our Customer Trips are back! Journey with us to Eastern India November 21st -30th 2023

Our Customer Trips are back! Journey with us to Eastern India November 21st -30th 2023

Let us show you our India... Travel with us to our beloved India and experience this glorious country the Secret Projects way!  Join us in Eastern . . . India for a special journey to the heart of Secret Projects for 10 nights from 21st -30th November 2023. Important information: The beginning of our journey together Our journey together begins in Kolkata on Tuesday 21st November with a welcome dinner at 8pm local time. Please arrive in good time to join us at this special meal to celebrate the beginning of our time together.  If you would prefer to arrive in Kolkata the day before (20th November) to give yourself time to relax before the Secret Projects journey begins the following day, please let us know and we will arrange for an extra night to be added to your hotel booking. Please note: there will be an additional charge for the extra night's accommodation. On the final day of our journey together We end our journey together as we began, in Kolkata, this time with a goodbye dinner on Thursday 30th November at 8pm local time. We stay on this final night in our hotel and depart the following morning (1st December) to catch outbound flights home or, to continue your time in India. Again, if you would like to remain at the hotel for further nights, please let us know and we can make the arrangements. Please note: there will be an additional charge for the extra night's accommodation. The full itinerary and other information can be found below. A journey to the heart of Secret Projects. Join us in Eastern India for a spectacular journey. Departing in November 2023 for 10 nights We are absolutely overjoyed to warmly invite you to join us on our first post-pandemic Customer Trip – A journey to the heart of Secret Projects. Our Customer Trips are very much part of the fabric of Secret Projects and we feel honoured to be able to share our story and provide our Shareholders, Customers and Friends with an opportunity to visit the beating heart of our business. Great thought and care have gone into the itinerary to ensure that our travellers experience India both on and off the beaten track in all her glory. You will be immersed in the colour and vibrancy of this wonderful country as you travel between the bustling city of Kolkata that teems with life and The Sundarbans, a World Heritage Site and one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. Travelling with Secret Projects takes you far beyond the realms of the average tourist. Of course, you will have plenty of opportunities to see the sights, savour Indian food and immerse yourself in all that India has to offer. Yet Secret Projects takes you deeper into a side of India not seen by many, as you visit our Maker Group in the Sundarbans, and witness first-hand the working relationship we have with a group of local women who stitch for us and the impactful NGO that supports the women. We absolutely can’t wait to introduce you. We will also meet up with one of our oldest friends, Molly who runs her own sewing unit for young women and was an integral part of the production of our now-famous Secret Sari Dresses. You will witness first-hand how sewing productions can drive women’s economic empowerment and see how your investment, custom and support make it possible. Your Hosts We are delighted to introduce you to Banke Ajayi, Secret Projects (UK) Finance Director, Sumathi Sumi, Director of Social Power India, our India sister company and Margaret Ring, our Communications Director of Secret Projects (UK) who will lead the trip, making sure you are well looked after. In the Sundarbans, we will also meet up with Lissy, our Quality Controller for Social Power India. Payment and booking The cost of the Customer Trip is $2,750 per person. (This is based on a group of 12 and includes all internal travel) The following is not included in the cost of the Customer Trip: International inbound and outbound flights Travel Insurance Cost of tourist visa All drinks, both soft and alcoholic during and outside mealtimes Single occupancy rooms. If you would like a single room, we can provide a quote. Payment for your trip can be made in full, or in instalments if more convenient and details of how to pay can be found here. A booking confirmation will be sent to you via email. We will also provide you with as much useful information as we possibly can in the run-up to your Customer Trip, including our top tips for travelling in India. To book your place or to ask us questions please email: travel@secretprojects.org Just a note: If you are thinking of extending your time in India to explore other regions, we will do our best to support you with this. We may be able to make bookings on your behalf or, suggest other Travel Operators within India. What’s in store... Tuesday 21st November - day/night one: We commence our shared journey with a welcome dinner in Kolkata to give us chance to get to know each other and find our ‘Indian feet.’ Wednesday 22nd November - day/night two: The day begins after breakfast followed by a 3 (or so) hours drive in a Tempo Traveller (that will be at our disposal for the entire trip) to the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans is a truly beautiful World Heritage Site and such a wonderful place to spend time. However, we can’t forget that its remoteness makes it a target for gangs of human traffickers. Women who earn an income are much less likely to fall into the hands of traffickers and that is exactly why we began our relationship with our Sundarbans Maker Group, who you will meet tomorrow, to provide women with fairly paid stitching work, empowering each one economically. Thursday 23rd November - day/night three: We travel together through breathtaking scenery to the area where our Sundarbans Maker Group is based, spending the day with the women and the team behind the NGO that also supports the group. Friday 24th November - day/night four: It’s a busy day today as we meet up again with the Sundarbans Makers, as well as one of our oldest friends, Molly who we have briefly introduced earlier. Molly runs her own sewing unit for young women in a nearby town - she is an inspiration to us. We will also fit in a visit to one of the local markets, taking in the sights and perhaps making a purchase (or two) of something to remind you of your time in this unique region of the worl Saturday 25th November - day/night five: Enjoy a day of leisure today. We have some excellent ideas for you. Perhaps get acquainted with Bengal Tigers (if it’s your lucky day!) on a Tiger Trek, visit one of the local markets for another spot of shopping, or simply relax, read and reflect on your Indian journey so far. The day is yours! Sunday 26th November - day/night six: It’s a day of competition, feedback, and insight for our Makers. We have worked with the women over the year, asking them to stitch products to showcase to you today. Your job is to choose the one/s you feel would be great for Secret Projects to produce with the Makers to sell on the international market. This is a key day for the women and will provide each one with a beneficial understanding of markets and trends. Monday 27th November - day/night seven: It’s back to Kolkata today and after freshening up at our hotel, we visit Mother House, the final resting place of Mother Theresa. A place of great peace and pilgrimage. Tuesday 28th November - day/night eight: Come with us today to Freeset, a Charity with an aim so close to our own hearts, to provide employment opportunities for women affected by human trafficking. We haven’t visited Freeset for a number of years due to the pandemic and it will be wonderful to catch up with this inspirational organisation. We know you will be as affected by their work as much we are. Wednesday 29th November - day/night nine: One can’t visit India without taking a train ride and that’s our job for today, to help you experience the joys of the Indian rail system. Tonight, your hosts take a night off, giving you all an opportunity to dine together in town at a restaurant of your choice. Thursday 30th November - day/night ten: Today is all about finding out more about traditional Indian dress, as we descend upon one of the most famous Saree markets in the city. The colours, noise and vibrancy of this market will live in your memories for many years to come. We end the day with our final meal together – a time to share our memories and highlights of the trip and swap details for keeping in touch. Friday 1st December: Make your preparations to either board your flights back home or continue your journey in this glorious land - both with huge smiles on your faces and a head bursting with new and wonderful memories. Just a note: Although we work hard to follow the itinerary closely, we do want to highlight that it may be subject to change should circumstances change. We will do our very best to notify you of any changes well ahead of time, if possible. And last but by no means least, here is what a couple of our travellers have to say about experiencing India the Secret Projects way... I could never have imagined just how wonderful the trip with Secret Projects was! Upon landing I was given such a warm welcome & immediately felt at home with the rest of the group. The days were wonderfully structured and we saw things I never thought I would experience. Meeting the women in the units was incredibly emotional on so many levels and ultimately so inspiring to see what Secret Projects has achieved with them. I really hope I get the opportunity to go back again someday & I will forever treasure the memories of this trip...❤️ Whitney, Traveller on the Secret Projects 2019 East India Customer Trip We thank you warmly and wholeheartedly for travelling with us to India and ask that you keep in touch with us. We absolutely love seeing our travellers' photographs and reminiscing with you from time to time about our time together in our beloved India.   Photo montage: a selection of images from Secret Projects Customer Trip to Kolkata and The Sundarbans 2019.
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