Jeevika’s Seventh Stakeholder Workshop – with thanks to the UK Department for International Development – has been a great success.
Packed into an ancient rattle-trap of a tiny bus, our five Indian partners, India Co-ordinator Priya Anand and UK Programme Officer Judith Crosland – 10 of us in all – travelled what felt the length and breadth of the Nilgiri Hills. A range in the westernmost part of Southern India, the Nilgiris come together to form the Western Ghats mountain chain where Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala meet.
Why the Nilgiris, you ask? Because it is here that Keystone Foundation has been working in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve since 1995 with indigenous communities on eco-development initiatives.
Keystone introduced us to members of the five Kurumba Tribes, and to the tribal women who process the wild honey which is collected by their menfolk as it hangs from the ancient Nilgiri cliffs. From these women we learnt how to squeeze every last drop of precious honey from the beeswax and how to maximise much of what honey and beeswax have to offer.
We tried our hand at processing the honey into its purest form; we learned how to make organic lip balms, soaps, jams and candles; and how to package honey and beeswax products to successfully compete in the open market. And, of course, to monitor quality control.
We also made paper bags in which these beautiful products are sold in Green Shops fully managed and owned by the tribal co-operatives. We even tried our hand at silk screen printing Green Shop on the bags. It was fun and we learned much from these generous, creative, capable women.
To help Jeevika provide new opportunities for Jeevan Rekha Parishad in Odisha; Mithra Foundation, Annai Mary Foundation, Women’s Organisation for Development, and Social Change & Development to bring their new skills to some of India’s most impoverished Tribal & Scheduled Caste women villagers, please hit the DONATE button