Saturday, December 08, 2007
Students Reach Out at the NGO Fair
Yesterday at the Calcutta International School, Class XI students welcomed as many as 12 non-government organizations (NGOs) to the music room, which we had always thought to be a very spacious room until now. Before people could even get their products on the table, the sales began -- with parents, teachers and students buying handicrafts from around 11:30 NON-STOP til about 4:00 pm when it finally slowed down.
This is what I call fair trade! I wanted to bring the idea of BUY HANDMADE to a population that is increasingly buying from big shopping malls, and bring the concept of FAIR TRADE to youngsters who may now understand that choosing to buy something (put their money into one pocket or the other) from an NGO actually means a contribution to a more just, more peaceful world.
People who work for NGOs are often working on very low budgets and long hours, although many understand how important it is to communicate with like-minded people and those groups working toward the same goals, it just doesn't happen because there is not a drop of spare time or resources. I was so happy to see the NGOs themselves doing a lot of networking and interacting and learning from each other. My students from Shikshamitra ran their own table selling handmade cards, bookmarks, gift tags, eco-tote bags, hand-stitched coasters and sweet basil plants. What can I say? They had a BLAST!
My heart goes out to everyone who participated in this event, and made it the success that it was: a cumulative total of Rs. 45,000 in just about 6 hours. One group, Ankur Kala, reported to me this morning that they had record sales, more than they'd ever sold at one fair! All the money ends up going toward dedicated efforts to support disadvantaged individuals who strive daily to learn skills and earn financial stability.
Everyone went home smiling and I am more than sure that several tiny mustard seeds got planted at this event -- let's see how they bloom???!!!