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 have been named one of the top 100 Social Enterprises in the SE100 Index and Social Business Awards run by NatWest and Pioneers Post

We have been named one of the top 100 Social Enterprises in the SE100 Index and Social Business Awards run by NatWest and Pioneers Post

We have been named one of the top 100 Social Enterprises in the UK in the NatWest Bank SE100 Index and Social Business Awards. AND WE COULDN'T BE . . . PROUDER! We entered the competition earlier this year and put it to the back of our minds. We knew that we had done a good job with the application, highlighting our strengths as well as our plans for the future. However, the competition was going to be tough as there are so many brilliant Social Enterprises out there! Then the news came through that we had been named one of the top 100 UK Social Enterprises! We genuinely went into a bit of shock for a couple of minutes, wondering if what we were seeing was real! And then we screamed a little! This award means so much to us and, without wishing to sound like we are giving an Oscars acceptance speech, we wouldn't have recieved this honor without the unfailing support of our Customers, Shareholders and Friends. So, it's a well done to each and everyone of us. What is the SE100 Index and Social Business Award? The SE100 Index and Social Business Awards is run by NatWest Bank & Pioneers Post every year to name, celebrate and learn from the UK's 100 most impressive social enterprises. Learn more about this award here. What does being named one of the top 100 UK Social Enterprises in the SE100 Index and Social Business Awards mean to us? So much! It's wonderful to get a recognition that what we are doing is making an impact by such a presitgious organisation and award. To be counted in with 99 other excellent social enterprises is just wonderful and we want to give a shout out to all the top 100. It's so tough for social enteprises in this current climate and to receive this honor has really boosted our spirits, so thank you to the SE100 committee for recognising our work and to the entire Secret Projects team for working so hard our social enterprise the impactful organisation it is today.      
Continue reading >
Introducing our latest editorial creation - News from India

Introducing our latest editorial creation - News from India

Introducing News from India We are delighted to introduce our latest editorial creation - News from India, dropping in inboxes every 6 weeks. What's . . . it all about? News from India, begins with an update and introduction from Secret Projects India Director, Sumathi and is packed full of news about what our Makers (the name we give to the women who lovingly stitch our Ranges of Clothing and Homeware) are working on, how you can help us in our mission to empower women in India, plus lots of other information and announcements. With Heart With Heart, our long standing, monthly e-newsletter will still continue to be sen but will now mainly focus on our products, offers and new products. How to sign up to receive News from India and With Heart Please click the link here to sign up to receive both News from India and With Heart. If you already receive With Heart, you will automatically be sent News from India. Subscribing to News from India is one of the best ways to keep up with all things Secret Projects India and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as Sumathi and the team enjoy putting it together.   Photo: Sumathi's update from News from India. 
Continue reading >
Update on Molly's Sewing Unit - the producers of our Secret Sari Dress

Update on Molly's Sewing Unit - the producers of our Secret Sari Dress

Update on Molly's Sewing Unit – the producer of the SSD (Secret Sari Dress) Molly, as many of our Customers and Friends know, heads up her own sewing . . . unit in West Bengal, where there is an alarmingly high rate of human trafficking and provids young women with stitching work, who without an income are more at risk of falling into the hands of trafficking gangs. When we met Molly, (a number of years ago now) through an NGO, we knew that she was the perfect person to begin making our Secret Sari Dresses (SSD) and we worked together productively for over 2 years. She is very special to us, along with the young women. The effects of the pandemic for Molly and the unit When the pandemic hit, things became difficult for Molly and she had to temporarily close her unit to work as a Quality Controller in a garment factory, between lockdowns to provide money for her family. Throughout this time, we have kept in touch with Molly to support her. Molly has now been able to reopen her unit and has had some orders, which is great but things are still tough. She has been granted an export licence, which is no mean feat in India and we are so proud of this massive achievement. Our Finance Director, Banke is coaching her in how to effectively use this license as it will be hugely beneficial to her business. Future plans... We really want to be able to give Molly and the young women orders for more SSD's but before we are able to do this, we need to clear the current stock we have. So we can give work to Molly as soon as possible, we are offering 2 for 1 on all Secret Sari Dresses. Choose one for yourself and one for a friend (or keep both!). How it works... Choose your dress and go to the checkout and in the note box tell us the size and ideal colour way you would like for your second and free of charge SSD and we will do our best to match! It's like a managed lucky dip!!! The offer is available on all SSD's. Please note, the offer is currently only available for delivery to UK addresses with payment in Sterling. To shop, please click here What happens next... Once we have cleared the stock, we will work with Molly towards putting together brand new Collections of SSD's, which is such an exciting prospect and we all can't wait. Molly sends her love to everyone. Photo: Selfie taken by Molly (on far left) with some of her Makers. (Photograph used with permission.)
Continue reading >