Srishti in Munnar
Munnar offers nature at its best. It is very obvious that one would go tripping around the zig zag tea plantation and soak eyes in all things green. Amid the regular sightseeing when the guide suggested paying a visit to Srishti, I was intrigued to know more about it. He also mentioned that it isn’t something touristy so just in case I didn’t like it he shouldn’t be blamed for wasting the time, as we had just one day to roam around in Munnar. I assured him nothing of that sort is going to happen.
What is Srishti?
Srishti is a welfare center in Munnar which is managed and run by Tata Tea. It comes under Tata Global Beverages’ Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. It aims at giving a quality life to the families of tea pluckers in Munnar. Srishti also helps in shaping up the future of differently abled children majority of who belong to these families. The tea pluckers are paid on daily basis and needless to say they don’t earn generous amount. Srishti runs various projects which aims at securing a good future for these kids. The projects which define Srishti which are Development Activities in Rehabilitations (DARE), Aranaya, Athulya and Strawberry Preserve Making Unit.
Development Activities in Rehabilitations (DARE)
Development Activities in Rehabilitations (DARE) works on rehabilitating mentally and physically challenged children. Majority of these kids belong to the tea plantation workers in Munnar. These families survive on their daily wages and it is very difficult for them to do anything extra for their kids. Development Activities in Rehabilitations (DARE) is a benediction for them as it not only educates the kids but also nurture them by giving them vocational trainings as well. It started with just 29 students and currently there are more than 50 children with varied disabilities.
Athulya is the unit which creates paper from waste items. Athulya runs on ideology on creating “Wealth from Waste”. They first collect all the used papers, boards and other recyclable waste form their estate offices. Later these waste materials are processed to create papers and thick paper boards. To make the process even more environmental friendly they use only natural ingredients in the recycle process. Additives like tea leaves, lemon grass, eucalyptus leaves, onion peelings etc. are used to add color and texture to the paper. The most amusing was the paper made of Elephant dung.
Athulya has basic infrastructure which enables them to process the waste products and produce all sorts of papers. Then these papers are used to create handmade diaries, paper bags, other paper based stationary. I am a stationary junkie and to see paper being made from such sources was an absolute delight. The workers were mostly women and their respective family members work as tea pluckers. Athulya works for women empowerment by giving them vocational training. A volunteer from the team told us that they are constantly experimenting with new methods and products to discover more and more biodegradable innovative products.
Aranaya, the name itself intrigued me a lot. Later I got to know that Aranaya means forest. This unit deals with creation of non-toxic, eco-friendly and azo-free dyes and fabrics. As soon as you enter the premises of Aranaya you will notice women working with yards and yards of clothes and huge containers filled with dyes. The interesting fact about the whole process is that all the dyes and colors are prepared by mixing various colored natural ingredients like leaves, barks, seeds, nuts and flowers. They are also into tie and die and block printing.
Nitya, the lady who showed me around the premises was very helpful. She told me how this unit is working with the differently abled women and giving their lives a purpose. There is a small store inside Srishti where they sell most of their products. Majority of the stock is exported out of India and some to few online shopping websites like Japore and Itokri. Every single stole or saree is an outcome of days of hard work and intelligent combination of natural additives and hence the prices are on a higher end, but the quality is worth the price.
Strawberry Preserve Making Unit
Next we went to the Strawberry Preserve Making Unit, we couldn’t do much here as everyone had gone for lunch break and cleaning was in progress. This unit is involved in making jams from the fruits readily available in Munnar. They majorly make Strawberry, Plum, Guava and Passion Fruit jam. I bought one bottle of Guava jam and there is a strict rationing on how much I consume everyday because I don’t want it to get over. If you visit Munnar then stop by Srishti and buy one of these jams. You can thank me later.
Why Srishti deserves your attention
Srishti deserves your attention because it a step towards a progressive country. The fact that this organization works with differently abled people and trains them to be independent and confident is a commendable job. While doing this the organization only utilizes natural ingredients and hence the whole process is environment friendly. In a world where we continuously talk about empowering women and preserving our mother earth Srishti is doing all things right. If you come to Munnar I would request you take few hours and visit this place, you will come back all inspired and liberated.
PS: My visit to Munnar was with Club Mahindra as a part of #DreamTrail project. Watch out them for their #DreamTrail season 2 which is going to be out soon.