November 2019 - A Journey to Women's Empowerment: North India



We are delighted to share with you our second customer trip A Journey to Women's Empowerment: North India. In this trip, we will visit the state of West Bengal where we have three Maker Groups.

West Bengal is located between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. It borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north, as well as five other Indian states. Its capital is the formidable Kolkata.

The trip will take place the week commencing the 25th November 2019, for nine days.

We welcome customers to book a place on this trip. Bookings will be taken by our Indian company, Secret Pillow Project India, who will deliver the trip. We use PayPal to help customers make this transaction, quickly and easily, using their credit card.

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 Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata)
  • 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 confirming you would like to reserve a place.

You will receive information about how to pay your non-refundable deposit of 41,250 rupees (approx. £438).

You will receive confirmation of your booking from Secret Pillow Project India.

The balance for the trip will be requested 3 months before the trip (around the 1st August 2019).

*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.

A Rough Itinerary for the Trip...

Day 1

Fly from London to Kolkata. That evening, Fritha will host the orientation dinner, giving you a detailed brief of the itinerary over a delicious meal.

Day 2

We will travel to meet Fatima's Unit, one of our newest Maker Groups who have started doing embroidery for new products we have developed.

That evening we will shop in the impressive markets of Kolkata, exploring the rich textiles and other delights that the city has to offer.

Day 3

We will travel on the train south of Kolkata with our business partner Rahat to visit Molly's Sewing Unit.

Day 4

We will spend this day visiting important landmarks in and around Kolkata, including Mother Teresa's tomb, the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden famous for The Great Banyan which is reckoned to be the largest tree in the world and the book markets. We will finish the day in the Burrabazar neighbourhood: on of the largest wholesale markets in India.

Day 5

We will visit our partners Freeset in for a tour of their premises. Freeset exists for the many women who have never had the choice to be free. They focus on providing positive employment opportunities for women affected by sex trafficking in West Bengal. That evening, we will get the train to Berhampore and stay overnight in Hotel Fame.

Day 6

We will visit the weaving unit to observe the weaving process, and another one of the Freeset Factories.

Day 7

We will take the train back from Berhampore to Kolkata.

Day 8

We will take the train east from Kolkata to Hasnabad. Near here, Momataaj's unit is based. This maker group has recently started doing traditional Kantha embroidery for us on scarves. One of the oldest forms of Indian embroidery, Kantha originated in West Bengal. We will be able to observe the women at work, and try some Kantha stitching for ourselves.

We will return to Kolkata for a delicious curry dinner.

Day 9

Fly back to London.

Opportunities During the Trip

Have your very own bespoke Secret Sari Dress made by one of our Makers.Shop in the biggest sari market in the world.

Have access to backstage West Bengal, where you will have the opportunity to learn about the challenges faced by women because of human trafficking, but also learn incredible stories of survival and bravery.

Visit communities on the border between India and Bangladesh.

Visit an active handloom factory, which are extremely rare in India now.

Visit the renowned social business Freeset, which has been providing employment for survivors of human traffickers for over 30 years.

Learn about local stitching traditions of region including kantha.

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

Enjoy being covered in Henna!

* All photos taken from Fritha's trip to West Bengal in September 2018 *

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