Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fair Trade Begins at Home

Ankur Kala Squash
Originally uploaded by dalbhat
The number of useful products available from NGO vocational skills production units here in Kolkata is truly impressive: drink concentrates (see photo) by Ankur Kala, greeting cards, soaps, wrapping paper, matchboxes, hand-woven wash rags, spices and spice mixtures, eco-tote bags, blankets, gift items. I think we all know by now that making purchases directly from NGOs and village artisans means you are able to decide exactly what your money is being for.

If you live in Kolkata, in the summer months, you should definitely know about Ankur Kala's Jam, Squash and Pickles production unit. The women trainees at Ankur Kala produce bottles of squash in seasonal fruit flavours.  I highly recommend the naturally made Lemon Squash as an alternative to any of the cold drinks you might normally reach for during the hottest months.  Other delicious flavors are the Pineapple, Mango and the new Lemon-Orange Ginger combo!  All you need to do is add a bit of squash to a glass, add water,  stir – add ice if you like – and enjoy this deliciously refreshing summer drink cooler!  You can also prepare a full bottle to keep in the fridge. An added bonus is the glass containers which are earth friendly and allow us to avoid more plastic bottles which are not recyclable. Ankur Kala will take back bottles when you are finished.  For the health conscious, there are selections such as karela juice, carrot juice, and mousam (sweet lime) juice.

I order several bottles at a time and have even become a distribution outlet for those who like this product in my neighborhood and at my children's school. THey make the perfect gift for teachers as school lets out.  I've sold 30 bottles for Ankur Kala in the past two months! If you place a large order, they will deliver, or you can call and order for pick up from their workshop on Park Street (close to Park Circus).  It's a nice way to give this dedicated organization your support.  Please place an order and spread the word!

ANKUR KALA was started in 1982 by a dear friend of mine, Annie Joseph. The organisation aims to provide impoverished and marginalized women opportunities to break free and stand on their own by developing business skills and training in various crafts and food production. Ankur Kala provides skill training in batik, tailoring, catering and the production of jams, squash, pickles, etc. The group is commited to holistic training so that the women trainees will be agents of change in society.

Opting to stay out of shops like Archies and the big shopping malls cropping up all over the city for gift items means you can use your spending power to support excellent projects and spread the word about these NGOs who are always in need of our ideas and support.

If you would like to order, please be in touch with:

Annie at Ankur Kala
3 Meher Ali Road
Kolkata 700 017
Tel : 033 2287 8476 / 2283 5990 / 6517 6649

* Ankur Kala squash is also available at Sasha Shop on Free School Street

Exercise your purchasing power by putting your money where it can really benefit locally!

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