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ha hulu

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We've talked before about the exciting work the innocent foundation been supporting with Send a Cow. Way back in 2005 we agreed to provide some funding to help the villagers of Ha Mapathe village in Lesotho to make some real changes to their lives and now 3 years on we're just about to transfer our last grant to them and we're so excited by what they've achieved we thought you'd like to hear about it to.

Lesotho has just been through it's worst drought in 30 years and the Ha Mapathe farmers have been finding life tough, but the villagers say they would be in a worse state if they hadn't put so much energy into building keyhole gardens, double dug beds and hafirs (water storage tanks), which have enabled them to grow enough vegetables to be able to survive.

Richie Alford Send a Cow's Programme Co-ordinator recently asked some of the Ha Maphathe women if they were happy as a result of the project - their response was 'Ha Hulu' . . 'absolutely definitely, in a big way!' What a fantastic response.

If you're stuck for what to buy Auntie Vera for Christmas and fancy helping people like the amazing villagers of Ha Maphathe you might want to take a look at www.sendacowgifts.org.uk/innocent

Posted by Linda (innocent foundation guardian)



a fond farewell to India

Today was the last day of a second fantastic week working with ITWWS, and sadly the last day of my stay. I felt much more settled and part of the team this week.

Yesterday I went out to some of the villages that ITWWS are working with to help Irula people, indigenous Indians who belong to one of the most marginalised communities in the country. I’ve been helping ITWWS put together their website which means I’ve spent a lot of time learning and writing about the difficulties that they face on a day to day basis. Despite that, it was still a shock to see how they live, and how little they really have. I met a 6 year old boy who lives in one of the villages, who has had to drop out of school to look after his younger sisters as both his parents have to work to feed the family. One of the projects that ITWWS runs is providing learning centres in the Irula villages to allow children to continue their education in the evenings if they have to work or look after siblings
during the day. Having seen so many children who can’t go to school, I now realise how important the learning centres are, and also how important education really is, something that’s often taken for granted.

The villages that we visited are areas where ITWWS are helping to build the villagers solid homes. The villagers themselves, both men and women, work together to carry out the construction work, as it not only provides them with employment but it also gives them a sense of owning the houses as they helped to build them.

Also this week, there was a company meeting for ITWWS staff members. I went along for a few hours and although I’ve learnt a few words of Tamil most of it went over my head. However, there was definitely talk of strategies and tactics and plans for the coming year, so it was pretty much like an innocent company meeting only with better weather and fewer bad jokes.

So today it was with a tear in my eye that I had to say goodbye to the team that has looked after me so well for the last 2 weeks. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to live with such a lovely Indian community in rural India, away from the hassles and distractions of the towns and cities. I’ve learnt a lot about ITWWS and the great work that they do so I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone when I get back. They’ve achieved so much already and they should be very proud of themselves.

Helen.


notes from India...

Well, it's one week into my trip to India to visit one of the NGOs that the innocent foundation supports, and what an incredible week it's been.

After 2 days in the noise and heat of Chennai (which used to be named Madras), on Monday morning I travelled south for about 2 hours into rural India, to the ITWWS campus, which is where I’m spending 2 weeks working with the team, learning all about what they do as well as sharing some of the things we've learnt at innocent.

ITWWS is the Irula Tribal Women’s Welfare Society, and is one of the NGOs that the innocent foundation supports through WOMANKIND Worldwide in the UK. ITWWS work with tribal women in the Tamilnadu region of India. The Irulas are a semi-nomadic tribe and until about 50 years ago they got all their food and medicines from the forest. However, a number of wildlife and forestry protection laws have been passed in recent years, which has forced the tribes out of their natural habitat. This means that many of them have lost their homes and their livelihoods, and as a result they have to move around for work and for food, with many of them suffering from extreme poverty.

ITWWS is working with Irula women to give them an income by teaching them to use their traditional skills. For instance, because the Irulas have traditionally lived of the land, they have a huge knowledge of plants and herbs which are known to have medicinal properties. ITWWS has set up a number of nurseries on the campus where hundreds of different plants and herbs are grown. These are then picked, dried, ground and packaged, and sold as herbal medicines to generate income for the Irula women.

As well as learning all about ITWWS, I’m also here to share some of innocent’s experiences with ITWWS in terms of business knowledge, as they are hoping to be able to sell their herbal medicines under the Irula brand throughout India and possibly internationally at some point in the future.

I’m staying on the ITWWS campus and it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s in a forest area, 10km from the nearest town, so pretty remote. It’s on 10 acres and contains the plant nurseries, herbal production unit, a handicrafts centre, and arts library. It’s dry season at the moment so it’s scorching – somewhere around 35-40 degrees.

Yesterday I went on a field trip with the ecology team to a town called Tiruvannanalai which is famous for its Hindu temples. The ground is very dry so the team were there to test the soil in the temple grounds to try to work out which plants and herbal medicines they could grow there. It was a great experience for me, especially as they took me round the temple, explaining all the rituals and meanings.

The team that I'm working with are some of the loveliest people I've ever met. They've made me feel really welcome and I'm feeling quite sad that I've only got 5 days left with them.

Helen


a message from India

Helen

At the end of last week we waved goodbye to Helen who has gone to Chenglepet in India to visit and help out at a project that the innocent foundation helps to fund through WOMANKIND Worldwide. We've just had our first couple of very quick updates from Helen out in India that we thought we'd share with you...

Day 1.
Had my first day at ITWWS and really loving it. Krishnan (director) and everyone are lovely and the campus is in a beautiful location. Only downside is that it's hot hot hot.

Day 4.
Hey, just checking in. Day 4 and all going well, been helping ITWWS by reviewing their website. Starting to feel a bit at home. Out tomorrow with ecology team to plant trees and find out more about what they do. Then off to the beach for the weekend.

Helen will be putting together a full report on her trip and stories of the Irula Tribal Women she's working with when she gets back in a couple of weeks. We'll keep you posted.


bearing fruit

Every now and again we have a chatwich here at Fruit Towers. (A chatwich is a lunchtime chat accompanied by sandwiches.)

Anyway, today's chatwich was given by Charlotte Garratt from Care International. She's just come back from one of the projects that we support via the innocent foundation, working with indigenous tribes in Ecuador. Here are a few interesting facts that I picked up:

- Care is the world's third largest NGO. They were also at Fruitstock this year.

- the innocent foundation is supporting Care on a project named PROMESA (promise), working with 300 families to help them to produce and sell local fruit and vegetables to generate income and support themselves. This involves practical stuff such as helping these families get their produce to the market, which in the past has been hindered by poor roads and transport in this remote area.

- in Guadelupe village the Shuar and Mestizo people are working together to preserve their traditional way of life, protect their human rights and lift themselves out of poverty. Charlotte told us that the Shuar and Mestizo concept of time is different to our own, in that they don't store things for the future. Not being naturally capitalist, the Shuar are vulnerable to exploitation by developers and illegal loggers.

- fruit grown in the area includes tamarillos, guanabanas, cherimoyas, guayabas and naranjillas (a cross between a tomato and an orange).

- the Shuar tribe is famous for the ancient practice of Tsantsa (head shrinking).

We'd probably better stop there. Anyway, it was a fine chatwich. Nice to know that the money you spend on our drinks ends up somewhere good.