A Journey to Women's Empowerment: South India 2020

An Invitation

We are delighted to invite you to join our second Journey to Women's Empowerment in South India, taking place in January 2018.

Wednesday 15 January - Thursday 23 November 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.

As this is our first journey, we invite 6 confident travellers to come along and try it out, and commit to giving honest feedback at the end of the trip. You can help ensure this trip is out of this world and contribute to our ambitious mission to empower.

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. With the support of Joseph and his team, Fritha, founder of Secret Projects, will be the host of the trip. Fritha has travelled extensively in India for over 10 years and has lead many trips with a social purpose.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Wednesday 15 January - 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 16 January - 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 17 January - 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 18 January - 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 19 January - 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 20 January - 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 21 January - 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 22 January - 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 23 January 

Drive from Mysore to Bangalore for your international departure.

 

Bespoke Secret Pillow 

Early on in our journey we will visit the finest fabric shop. During our visit, you will have the chance to buy fabrics. You can pay cash (rupees) or by credit card for the fabrics. If you would like to have bespoke Secret Pillows made up for yourself or as Christmas presents, you can buy fabrics at this shop. Below is the process for having a bespoke Secret Pillow made up: 

 1. Go to the fabric shop and choose your fabrics with Fritha's guidance. Gunner who runs the shop also knows the measurements you will need. 

2. Purchase the fabric and tell Fritha how many Secret Pillows you would like made. Each Secret Pillow will cost 2000 rupees (approx. £21) to make up. 

3. Give your fabric to Fritha, and over the course of the trip your Secret Pillow(s) will be made up by one of our Makers in Bangalore. 

4. On arrival back to Bangalore you will receive your Secret Pillows. We would be very grateful if you could pay for them in cash. 

5. You can then take your Secret Pillow(s) back home with you. A trick to get them home is to have them plastic wrapped to your suitcase. There is a machine in Bangalore airport and you can wrap your bag for as little as 400 rupees. 

If you have any fabric at home you would like made up into Secret Pillows, please contact Fritha directly and she will give you the measurements.  

Hotel Information

All our hotels have been tested and reviewed by our Joseph's team or Fritha and Nirmala for quality, service and hygiene. Level of luxury and comfort will naturally vary by hotel based on budget and destination. For more information on any of the hotels, please visit the website of the individual hotel.

Cost of the trip based on a group of 6 persons is £1,500

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.

How to book and pay

To reserve your place on the trip, please make a non-refundable deposit of 25,000 rupees (approx. £260) through our trusted international payment gateway through Instramoji.  Please email travel@secretprojects.org if you wish to reserve a place. 

 

FAQs

Why is the payment in rupees? Secret Pillow Project India will be delivering this trip. This company deals primarily in rupees.

Is there a bank fee charge when using the payment link above? Yes, there is and the charges are offset to the customer. (convenience fee of 2% + Rs 3 for each payment).

Is this trip ATOL protected? This trip is not ATOL protected.

Do I need to be good at sewing or craft to enjoy the trip? We will be taking part in a craft workshop and there will no doubt be lots of discussion about making things and fabric but not prior experience is needed. Just an active interest.

As further questions are submitted to us, we will publish them below.

 

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