Friday, November 23, 2007

Lines of Communication

Originally uploaded by dalbhat
This Thursday at Shikshamitra we had a guest named Yuuki Uehara visit us. Yuuki works as a freelance illustrator and is deeply interested and experienced in community development. He and the children got to know one another by asking questions in English and through simple line drawings.

The kids asked Yuuki where he lived and he drew a picture of his little country house back in Japan, with orange orchards in the back on terraced mountains.

Yuuki's session

He swiftly drew a razor and his own head in the bathroom mirror when they asked him why his head was completely bald.

After interacting, all the students did simple black line drawings to express something to Yuuki about their own lives. Communicating through pictures turned out to be the theme of the session, though we didn't know that until we ended.

And THAT, my friends, is the nice thing about alternative learning!

Lines of communication

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Holiday Cards 2007

Originally uploaded by dalbhat
Things moved a bit slowly (as they will in Kolkata) but this year's card designs are just hot off the press -- and I need to sell them.

All these designs are $1 each
(paid by check; postal transfer in japan; plus postage from India which is usually quite reasonable). Most of the cards featured are printed on handmade paper at Silence and hand-painted to provide further income generation opportunities. Silence is my favorite local fair trade organization, training and employing those who are deaf and 'specially abled' workers. They are the real McCoy when it comes to Fair Trade and I am proud to support them and acknowledge their efforts in my own small way! .

This year, I must say a huge thank you to two very creative and generous people in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Rick and Brenda Beerhorst, who volunteered their woodblock print artwork for the Nativity, the Flying Dove, the Ornament, and the Hope Bird.

There are also beautiful cards made by Calcutta Rescue (the embroidered elephant), Ankur Kala women's support organization (the red mandala and blue snowflake), and the students at Suchana, the school in rural West Bengal that I often visit and help out at sometimes (the set of 6 designs).

Please email me at if you are interested in prices for the other designs, and getting cards sent out to you next week.

By the way, Rick and Brenda also shared designs for 'The Children's Series' featuring quotations by Rabindranath Tagore on the back side which I produced for sale at Alcha in Santiniketan

For other designs and some better photos: see

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Kolkata in Brighton

A good friend of mine from college days, and from my hometown too, opened her shop this past weekend in Brighton, UK. The shop is dear to me because the concept all started when I sent a hand-embroidered card to Siobhan several years back -- and she wrote back asking if there were other handicrafts as beautiful as the card to be found in Kolkata. I began introducing her to several NGOs with production units and Siobhan gradually started developing a plan to sell the items where she now lives in Brighton, strictly adhering to fair trade rules and regulations. Three trips to Kolkata later...the culmination of almost three years of collaboration is that the shop opened over the weekend. Congratulations to Kolkata Shop -- I am hoping that many, many people find out about the incredible fair trade handicrafts coming out of Kolkata by entering through your doors!

If anyone knows someone in the London-Brighton area, please be sure to invite them to stop in for a browse if in the neighborhood. They won't be disappointed at the variety and quality...and every purchase is full of hope for the hardworking artisans back here.

I'm so proud of you, Siobhan!

8 Grantham Road
Brighton BN1 6EE
United Kingdom

Tel. (01273) 565105