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

A new Maker Group and production of face masks for our Secret Face Masks for India Appeal has begun

A new Maker Group and production of face masks for our Secret Face Masks for India Appeal has begun

Partly situated in West Bengal on the Bangladesh border, the group is based in the Sundarbans, an outstandingly beautiful and remote region of . . . mangrove forest. Being such an isolated part of the world, the area is a key target for gangs of human traffickers and income generating opportunities, especially for women are scarce. A little more about the women... We met the NGO supporting the women when on a Customer Trip to West Bengal before lockdown gripped the world and were immediately impressed with their work and mission and how their values aligned so closely with Secret Projects. They work with groups of marginalized women who are at risk of being trafficked and help them to enhance their sewing skills by providing tailoring and stitching training and then go on to earn income by using these skills. We were very keen to work together, but obviously the global pandemic meant that plans had to be placed on hold. We launched our Sponsor Secret Face Masks for India appeal in May '21 to not only help slow down the spread of the virus in the country, but to provide our Makers with a chance to earn money to support themselves and their families and children by producing the masks. We decided that we wanted to distribute the masks in and around Bengaluru, where many of our Makers live as well as in the regions of Andhra Pradesh and the Sundarbans. How we are working together We contacted the NGO and had a very productive meeting via Zoom and agreed that the group would make 1000 sponsored face masks for Secret Projects and distribute them to communities most in need in the area. Lissy, our Quality Controller and Maker provided virtual training about how to make Secret Face Masks to our specifications and the production process has now begun! The group has started by making a small number of masks that have been returned to Lissy for a quality control check before full production begins. She has been very impressed with the standard and is currently feeding back to the group about a few small adjustments that need making and following this the stitching of the 1000 face masks will commence. We look forward to sharing further details about the making of the masks and their distribution soon. We are excited to be working with this new group of Makers at what is an incredibly difficult time for India and look forward to growing and developing our relationship to empower women through training and the making and selling of clothing and homeware. If you would like to sponsor a pack/s of Secret Face Masks, please click here for more information. Photo: The women from the Sundarbans Maker Group with team members of the NGO that supports them.
Continue reading >
We are over the moon to be part of 'Beyond Beautiful' -  a collection of artisanal products curated by the World Fair Trade Organization

We are over the moon to be part of 'Beyond Beautiful' - a collection of artisanal products curated by the World Fair Trade Organization

As provisional members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), we are absolutely delighted to have been chosen to be featured in one of their . . . latest programmes, 'Beyond Beautiful' Beyond Beautiful... ‘Beyond Beautiful’ is a curated collection of artisanal products from verified Fair Trade Enterprises around the world. How does it help our mission to empower women in India? It promotes the work and stories of global craftspeople providing a new sourcing opportunity for retailers and importers wishing to expand their fair trade offer. So, in a nutshell, being part of Beyond Beautiful showcases Secret Products to new markets and buyers keen to purchase from ethical producers and Fair Trade product lines. A great opportunity for us! It is one of our major goals to increase our profile amongst retailers, importers and wholesalers, giving the opportunity for Secret Products to be sold more widely all over the world. Being part of Beyond Beautiful is a wonderful step for us towards achieving this goal and we are proud and excited to have been chosen by WFTO as one of their featured producers. If you have any contacts within the retail/wholesale world who are keen to expand their range of fair trade products, please pass on their details to our CEO, Fritha Mason: fritha@secretprojects.org Photo: Kantha Blankets made for Secret Projects as featured in Beyond Beautiful
Continue reading >
The first AGM of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society - a review

The first AGM of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society - a review

The first ever AGM of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society (SPCBS) was held on Wednesday 30th June 2021 via Zoom. We were delighted to have 25 . . . Shareholders attending the meeting in person, with a further 23 Shareholders represented via proxy. Opened and chaired by Secret Projects CEO, Fritha Mason, presentations were given by:   Banke Ajayi, Financial Director of SPCBS Fritha Mason, CEO of SPCBS Sumathi Thyagarajan, Acting Director of Social Power India (SPI) Shin Rumani, Marketing Manager of SPI Margaret Ring, Communications Manager of SPCBS   The main theme of the meeting naturally revolved around the affects that COVID-19 has had on the business and Banke Ajayi was able to provide a positive report about how the Society has fared financially over the last year. She stated that we had survived the global pandemic, which is a good base from which to grow over the next few years. As this was our first AGM, the team were excited to present and engage with Shareholders and were delighted with how the meeting progressed and the positive comments received from people. We would like to express gratitude to our Shareholders for their continued support and positive involvement in Secret Projects Community Benefit Society and we look forward to our second year as a Community Benefit Society and empowering women in India through the training and the making and selling of clothing and homeware.  
Continue reading >