November 2020 - A Journey to Women's Empowerment: South and East India

 8th Mar 2020 |  Travel |  Fritha Mason


A Journey to Women's Empowerment 2020

Departing Sunday 22 nd November for 8 nights with an optional 3-day extension to Mysore

We are thrilled to invite you to join our 2020 Secret Projects Customer Trip – A Journey to Women’s Empowerment.

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 customers with an opportunity to visit the beating heart of our business.

Great thought and care have gone into the itinerary, as we want to give our customers the fondest and inspiring memories from the trip of a life- time. You will, of course, be immersed in the colour and vibrancy that is India as you travel from south to east with a group of like-minded fellow travellers. Yet, you will experience so much more than the average tourist as you visit our Maker Groups, partners and learn about Indian crafts and textiles from experts.

Payment and booking

The cost of the trip is £2,000, €2,200, NZD 3,500 per person (This is based on a group of six travellers and includes all internal flights).

The three-day extension trip is an additional £700, €800, NZD1,000 per person.

The following is not included is the cost of the trip:

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Cost of tourist visa
  • Drinks outside of mealtimes
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Purchase of fabrics and other craft, homeware or clothes at shopping stops
  • Single occupancy rooms. If you would like a single room, we can provide a quote

If you would like to extend your trip and join us for the additional three days, please let us know at the time of booking and we will provide full details.

To book your place, please email travel@secretprojects.org.

  • We will ask you for a refundable deposit of £500, €500, $500, NZD 600 and will only be able to move forward with the trip with a minimum of 6 travellers.
  • We will ask you for the remaining balance 3 months before the trip.

Please note, if we haven’t managed to reach the numbers needed by the end of July, we will sadly have to cancel the trip and will refund your deposit or give you the option of booking our 2021 Customer Trip.

Booking confirmation will be sent to you via email along with a welcome pack, so you will be able to begin dreaming and planning your trip!

Itinerary for the Trip

Day 1 – Sunday 22 November

Arrive at Bengaluru airport

Check into the hotel, relax and freshen up after your flight.

At 4.30 we will travel into the bustling centre of the city, stopping at Ritis – an ethical fabric emporium. Listen to a lively and educational talk about traditional Indian fabrics by the owner and maybe purchase some of your own fabric, that could be made up into Secret Pillows?

We will have dinner in a restaurant close by to the hotel that evening.

That night we will stay at the Royal Serenity Bengaluru

Photo: A visit to Ritis Ethical Fashion Emporium to pour over a huge selection of gorgeous India fabrics.

Day 2 – Monday 23 November

In the morning, we will visit Secret Projects Indian Production Support Unit and learn more about the mission of Secret Projects to empower women in India.

Enjoy a delicious lunch with Secret Projects Makers and there will be ample opportunity to ask many questions about our work and of course to shop for Secret Products. If you purchased fabric at Ritis to be made into a Secret Pillow please be sure to have it with you to be made up by one of our Makers.

That afternoon there will be a demonstration by an artisan highly specialised in the art of block printing to add to your knowledge of how Indian fabrics are produced. The wood blocks will be on salefor those who would like to begin to master this technique themselves.

The day will end with a celebratory dinner at one of Bengaluru’s beautiful restaurants.

That night we will stay at the Royal Serenity Bengaluru

Women from Secret Projects Indian Production Support Unit

Day 3 – Tuesday 24 November

Catch a morning flight to Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal in Eastern India.

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.

After freshening up, the group will head to India’s biggest sari market Barabarza. A market like no other! The plan is to buy a sari, that will be made up into your very own Secret Sari Dress by our Maker Group in Kolkata.

After the hustle and bustle of the market, travel back to the hotel for drinks, dinner and a chance to reflect on the day.

That night we will stay at Senator Hotel, Kolkata

Downtown Kolataka!

Day 4 – Wednesday 25 November

After breakfast, we will visit Secret Projects partner Freeset and be given a tour of their premises. Freeset is an inspirational organisation whose focus is to provide positive employment opportunities for women affected by sex trafficking in west Bengal. An ethical business whose aims and values align so closely with our own.

Following the visit to Freeset, we set of on the journey to Sundarbans, stopping for lunch on route.

We will arrive late at the hotel, but a delicious dinner will be waiting for you.

That night, we will stay at Sundarban Safari Hotel

Day 5 – Thursday 26 November

This is a day like no other! We will visit 2 Secret Projects Maker Groups and experience first-hand the inspirational women who are part of our Network of Indian Producers

Molly’s Sewing Unit

Molly is the inspiring women who runs our sewing unit in West Bengal. With a diploma in fashion design and being an experienced seamstress, Molly drives this unit that produces our Secret Sari Dress. The unit is in a region that borders Bangladesh where the main income generating activities for both men and women are brick-making or as a daily labourer in farming and agriculture – both physically demanding and low paid. Molly’s Sewing Unit provides women in the region with an alternative way to earn a good income. Read more about this inspiration Secret Projects Maker Group HERE.

We have lunch on the road and afterwards visit our second Maker Group:

Messengers Tailoring School – part of NGO Peace with Neighbours Group

Messengers Tailoring School is a brand new Maker Group that Secret Projects has recently begun working with. You will be one of the first few to learn more about Messenger Group and how they will work within the Secret Projects Network of Indian Producers. One of our key aims is to be able to reach more isolated groups of women and our work with Messengers Tailoring School is helping us to achieve this goal.

As you sit down to dinner in the evening there will be much to think about and discuss with your fellow travellers.

That night we will stay at Sundarban Safari Hotel

A visit to Molly's Sewing Unit

Day 6 – Friday 27 November

A day of rest and relaxation will begin very early in the morning (!) with a safari and boat trip organised by the hotel team. This full day trip has many highlights not least a visit to Sajnekhali Watch Tower, in the beautiful and lush Sundarbans National Park where the most wonderful, colourful birdlife can be viewed and who knows, perhaps a tiger if it’s our lucky day?

That night we will stay at Sundarban Safari Hotel

Boat Safari Sundarbans National Park

Day 7 – Saturday 28 November

Leaving the hotel after breakfast, we will journey back to Kolkata

The afternoon will be spent sightseeing in this famous city visiting important landmarks in this famous city including the much revered and visited Shrine Tomb of Mother Theresa and other fascinating areas of Kolkata.

Spend a relaxing evening at the hotel and enjoy dinner and a chance to talk through the days events.

That night we will stay Senator Hotel, Kolkata

Mother Theresa's Shrine, Kolkata

Day 8 – Sunday 29 November

We will spend the morning further exploring this splendid and vibrant city, visiting the not to be missed, Heritage Rail Museum and learn about the fascinating evolution of transport in India. We will also visit the famous Botanical garden.

In the afternoon we say farewell to West Bengal as we head to the airport to catch a flight back to busy Bengaluru.

Enjoy a relaxing dinner at the hotel at the end of a fulfilling and busy day

That night stay at the Royal Serenity, Bengaluru

Day 9 – Monday 30 November

For some of us it will be time to return home - flying out from Bengaluru airport.

For those joining us for the three-day extension, we will leave early in the morning for Mysore, the capital of Karnataka state.

After a long journey, we will check into our hotel and spend the rest of the day in and around Mysore, marvelling at Mysore Palace, visiting the lively city market and experiencing this charming and historical city.

That night we will stay at The Green Hotel

The stunning Mysore Palace

Day 10 – Tuesday 1 December

Today, the group will visit Odanadi Seva Trust, an NGO founded over 20 years ago, who fight tirelessly to end human trafficking. You will meet the Directors and be shown round the 2 safe houses the charity run for women and children who are survivors of trafficking.

There will be a chance to experience some pampering! Odanadi have a Beauty Salon on site and after a relaxing treatment (or 2!) you may also like to sample a sweet treat from the Odanadi Bakery.

That night stay at The Green Hotel

Enjoy some pampering at Odanadi Beauty Salon

Day 12 – Wednesday 2 December

After bidding a fond farewell to Mysore, we embark on the journey back to Bengaluru and spend the afternoon resting or for those with energy left, maybe a visit to Bengaluru City Market?

That night stay at the Royal Serenity Hotel, Bengaluru

Please note, the itinerary for the 3-day extension trip is flexible. Odanadi

  • Seva Trust is a responsive organization and the Directors often must travel to rescue situations at short notice, so may not be on hand to meet the group. We will also ‘mix and match’ the itinerary depending on the needs of the women and children at the safe houses.

  • Opportunities During the Trip
  • There are so many opportunities to enjoy and spark deep thought and elation on this Journey to Women’s Empowerment – too many to list, but in a nutshell, here are a few:
    • Choose sari material to be made up into your very own bespoke Secret Sari Dress by our Makers.
    • Choose cotton fabric to be made up into your very own bespoke Secret Pillow by our Makers.
    • Shop in the largest sari market on earth
    • Get off the tourist trail and experience ‘backstage’ West Bengal and learn about the challenges faced by many women because of the ever-present threat of human trafficking. You will hear such incredible stories of bravery and survival.
    • Visit isolated communities on the border between India and Bangladesh
    • Pour over the story of the Indian sari and how its tradition is woven into the everyday life of Indian women.
    • Learn about local, traditional stitching techniques used in India by women for centuries
    • Get to the heart of our mission to empower women as you visit our Maker Groups and partners
    • Enjoy being covered in Henna! It’s a must in India!
  • Travelling with you will be a pure joy.
  • * All photos (except Mysore Palace) taken on Secret Projects Customer Trips to West Bengal and South India 201

More

eBay for Change - a programme to boost social enterprise. We are proud to have won a place!

eBay for Change - a programme to boost social enterprise. We are proud to have won a place!

What is eBay for Change? It's a simple and effective idea! eBay for Change is a 'hub' on eBay UK that connects it's 29 million customers with a number . . . of social enterprises with a clear mission to provide income generating opportunities for marginalised communities in the UK, as well as overseas, which have been hit hard by Covid-19. We are proud to have won a place on the programme and are looking forward to working with eBay to grow and develop a completely new audience for our Ranges of clothing and homeware, lovingly stitched by our Maker Community.   How did we become involved? To deliver their new venture, eBay partnered with Social Enterprise UK and the World Fair Trade Organization with a clear idea to provide a global shop front to small businesses who reinvest their profits back into the communities they work with. As a member of both these partner organizations, we, and others were approached by eBay and asked to take part in a competitive application process and were completely proud and overjoyed when we were advised that we had won a place on the programme! “We are delighted to have Secret Projects on board the eBay for Change programme. We are excited that we can be a part of their mission to empower women in India and to also bring a wonderful collection of clothing and homeware to eBay customers". Helen Armstrong, eBay UK   What does this mean for Secret Projects? In short, it means a huge amount of new and exciting opportunities for us. eBay has an enormous customer base throughout the world and as part of eBay for Change, we can now promote Secret Projects, our vision and Secret Products to 29 million people! Our Makers will see their work being sold all over the world, which is something they absolutely delight in! Through being a part of this innovative programme, we are confident that our customer base will grow significantly and that will translate into more stitching work for our Makers, which means more income for them to support themselves, their families and children. As part of eBay for Change we are being given some fantastic support and guidance by the team at eBay, which is excellent and is helping us to navigate our way through this new market. We are learning so many great tips for retailers like us, who work hard to empower communities. We are starting small and selling a limited number of Secret Products for now... but with a firm intention to grow our presence over time. To visit our eBay for Change shop HERE. A plea to end... those of you who have an eBay account, please can you add Secret Projects to your favourites. Thanks!   Photo: Women from the Secret Projects Maker Community gather round the sewing machine!
Continue reading >
Notice of the 2021 Annual General Meeting of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society

Notice of the 2021 Annual General Meeting of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society

The 2021 Annual General Meeting of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society will be held on Wednesday 30th June 2021 at 1pm (BST) via Zoom. (A link . . . to the meeting will be sent to all Shareholders later on this month.) Invitations have been sent to all Shareholders today, June 1st via email. Please do check your in-box and if it hasn't arrived, have a look in your junk folders and, if it appears to still not have reached you, email invest@secretprojects.org and we will send out another. We look forward to seeing our Shareholders and providing a full up-date about the business throughout the last year.  
Continue reading >
Our Appeal - help us to make and distribute 10,000 Secret Face Masks to communities in India

Our Appeal - help us to make and distribute 10,000 Secret Face Masks to communities in India

The brainchild of Sumathi, Director and Shin, Marketing Manager of Social Power India (SPI), we would like to introduce an appeal to provide Secret . . . Face Masks, produced by women from our Maker Community and given free of charge to communities in need throughout India. The details... We want to make and distribute 10,000 Secret Face Masks Sponsorship costs are £20/€25/$30 for a pack of 20 children's masks and £25/€30/$35 for a pack of 20 adult's face masks Backers of our appeal are able to sponsor multiple packs of Secret Face Masks One of the most positive aspects of our appeal lies in the fact that not only will we be providing vital face masks for those in need, but women from our Maker Community who are able to work from home during lockdown, as we don't operate from a factory, can continue production of the masks and receive an income to support themselves, their families, and children during this incredibly difficult time. To sponsor Secret Face Masks for India Please follow these instructions carefully Please head to our online retail shops by clicking the links below. (Shop in GBP, Euros or US Dollars) Sponsor Secret Face Masks in GBP Sponsor Secret Face Masks in Euros Sponsor Secret Face Masks in US Dollars Select how many packs of 20 Secret Face Masks you would like to sponsor to be distributed in India by SPI and add these to your basket. Next, click the link in point number 2 of the instructions to choose a pack of 5 Secret Face Masks for yourself (available in both adults and children's sizes) at £10/€14/$15 per pack (the shipping is free) and again, add to your basket.* Finally, follow the instructions to complete your purchase, providing a shipping address.* *Please note that due to Indian export regulations, we do require our Customers, Friends and Shareholders who would like to contribute to our Secret Face Mask sponsorship appeal to purchase at least one pack of 5 Secret Face Masks for themselves, to be shipped out of India to their address. As Bengaluru is currently in lock down, we will ship your Secret Face Masks as soon as the restrictions lift. These instructions are repeated when you go to our online shops! How we plan to distribute the face masks Initially, we plan to provide free face masks for whoever is in need in and around Bengaluru, where we are based and in Andhra Pradesh, South-East India and the Sundarbans in the Bay of Bengal, where we can work with our NGO partners. In and around Bengaluru Shin and Sumathi have many contacts in and around the area who can help us. We will give face masks to hospitals as well as marginalised communities in the city, where many of our Makers live. Andhra Pradesh and the Sundarbans In both these areas we have very good links with NGO's who work with groups of marginalised women. We will liaise with our partners and provide them with the necessary fabric and funds for local women's sewing groups to make the masks, and the NGO's will arrange for their distribution. One of the most positive aspects of our appeal lies in the fact that not only will we be providing vital face masks for those in need, but women from our Maker Community will stitch the masks and receive an income to support themselves, their families and children during this incredibly difficult time. Thank you so much for your support.
Continue reading >