In one week we are off to India on our producer journey. A journey that has been made possible by those super people who supported our spark my potential crowdfunding campaign. The generosity of people during (and following) just blew me away, and made something that looked a long way away (and was kind of an abstract idea), utterly possible. So let me just say again thank you to you all for both your resources and your positive messages about muka kids attempts to do things a new way.
So what is this trip all about? It is about two things:
1) Documenting the footsteps of muka kids clothing production chain, from the growing of the cotton in fairtrade organic farming cooperatives right through to the making of the clothing in ethical factories at both ends of the country (and everything in between).
AND more importantly
2) Giving you the opportunity to really see how a social enterprise like muka kids can have a significant impact on real women, their families and their lives. We hope to show you that by supporting muka kids you are not just a part of some abstract solution for some imagined people on the other side of the world, but the key to creating a new story for real people (women and their families) in India. That is the good stuff we are there to get.
On this trip will be me (Jess) and Paul. Paul is my very supportive ‘silent’ partner in muka (and life). He knows a thing or two about cameras, sound, travel in India and how to wrangle two small girls on a food colouring high.
On the way we will be meeting up with Ranga and Mehathab, who will take us around the various mills and garment factories we will be working with. Mehathab will also be travelling to the cotton farming areas with us.
We will also be meeting with various producer groups and cooperatives involved in fairtrade and organic cotton trade
Women’s development is high on our agenda, so meeting with those who work with women in poverty in India, asking loads of questions about social enterprise and micro-fiance along the way will be a big focus also.
We will start in Bangalore (Bengaluru) where Ranga is based. We will then head south into Tamil Nadu to Tiruppur, which Wikipedia tells me is known as the ”city of knitting”, where we will see how the raw cotton is spun and knitted, and fabric made into garments. Talk with the factory workers and just learn about the process of ethical clothing production.
In true Indian style the last two days has seen a total change in plans. Turns out the area we were going to for cotton growing has been turned into two states and a tiger reserve created in the last month (good for the tigers, not o much for us). It means that the visa and entry requirements have changed as it has become a restricted entry area, so therefore our travels have changed. We will now get on a train from Tiruppur for 30 hours and head all the way up the eastern coast of India to a small village in Odisha state. Here the organic fairtrade growing group is called Pratima Agro. We will spend time here meeting the farmers and their families, seeing how the fairtrade premium (the 2% of sale that goes back to the farmers) has helped them hopefully seeing the cotton picking and the ginning (the process where cotton is cleaned of seed and dirt).
We will then take another train to Kolkata, visit another factory that is part of the fairtrade and organic production chain, and also visit some social enterprises that work with women there. Notably Sasha and New Light.
This is India, so there will be changes, hiccups, backtracks, scary transport, dust, amazing food, terrible tummys, intense lows, great highs and A LOT of people. Keep an eye on our facebook page and our new Instagram account as this will be where I mainly update from when I can. If you do RSS you can try and follow the hashtag we will use #mukakidsindia . The focus will be all on just experiencing it and recording it to bring back for you guys
Wish us luck!