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India

MESH

Our path has been crossed by the Indian organization MESH (Maximising Employment to Serve the Handicapped) which associates handicapped and physically challenged craftsmen and folk artisans who suffer from leprosy. MESH is a non-government and non-profit organization asserting the principles of the Fair Trade. The goal of this organization is to mediate the sale of the handicapped artisan´s products and artefacts based on the Fair Trade principles, to support the work of women, educate them in Fair Trade business and lead them to self-sufficiency.

Through MESH we were introduced to The Little Flower Colony, a community of people handicapped with leprosy which is located in one of the poorest Indian state – Bihar, and Bethany Leprosy Colony in Andhra Pradesh. At least by a symbolical part which is presented by the Gaiatree Direct Support project, we want to help the members of The Little Flower Colony and Bethany Leprosy Colony to realize the vision of full self-sufficiency which is very close to our feelings, thoughts and life-style. Our first step was the order of hand-made yoga pants and yoga sets (a meditation pillow, a cover for a yogamat and a bag). Later we plan to extend our e-shop offer to hand-made silk (non-violent) products.

History of the Little Flower Colony

The colony was set up by a charismatic brother Christudas in 1984. Initially, he had been cooperating with mother Theresa in the hospital for leprous people near Calcutta city, which was the only place to cure the infected in the broad environs. Most of the leprous people came from poor Bihar, which is the most affected area with leprosy from all over India (40% of the global account).  Leprosy is a fully curable disease; a healthy person with a normal immunity system would not be affected by this bacteria. The conditions are getting worse in the poor areas, where there is lack of hygiene and quality food, huge humidity and large concentration of people with lack of awareness and unavailability to the medical care. Moreover, leprosy is nowadays still considered a social stigma which affects not only the parents, but also their children.

Brother Christudas has finally broken this social barrier. In the Little Flower Colony he has created a peaceful and meaningful space for living for 200 families. He provided them with the medical treatment, home, basic education for children, the working opportunities for adults and return to a normal dignified social life. He gave to the socially marginalized people a new meaning of life. Today the colony has a school and boarding houses for children, a hospital, a healing centre, weaver´s workshops, cowsheds, a dairy, a broiler´s farm and fields. In the hospital – which has the capacity of 140 beds – more than 50 000 infected people, both adults and children, were cured. Expensive medicines are paid by the donations received from friends from the U.S. and Europe. The school is visited by 125 children from the patients living in other colonies (in Bihar there is 22 leprosy colonies).

One of the goals of brother Christudas is that the colony would one day reach a full self-sufficiency, on which all its members have been cooperating since the beginning. Brother Christudas ´s future economical plan is awesome but it is also fully transparent and clear. One of the most interesting projects leading to the full self-sufficiency is the money saved on the cow milk sale which has being saved since the beginning. At that time, the most valuable property was a single cow, whose milk Christudas had tried to sell in the nearest city Raxaulu. In the end he succeeded and today there are 30 cows which sell about 300 litres of milk per day. All the money from the milk sale is directed to a savings account in the bank. In two years LF can reach the goal of the full self-sufficiency.

Nowadays, 40 % of the living is done by the broiler farms and the harvest from the fields. The daily takings of the weaver´s workshops also partly help with the running of the community life. The community products travel not only to the West, but also to the local shops and hospitals. All the processes leading to the final product – spinning, dyeing and stitching – are made by fully cured people. The silk production is made in a nonviolent, so called “vegetarian” way; this means that the silkworm moth is left to come out by itself. During the normal process of the silk production the worm is infused by hot water.

Thailand

Our first step in the Gaiatree Direct Support project was the edition and publication of lunar diaries for the years 2010 and 2011. The diary has been created as a symbolical support to few families from the Hmong tribe, which lives in the North Thailand, and also as an expression of gratitude for the selfless support in a situation each of us can be found. To be robbed of all financial resources is really not a nice experience, especially at the beginning of a journey to a totally unknown place. This unpleasant event has developed into a not intended story and has deepened my relation with Thailand.

I want to thank for the selfless support and hearty welcome to my friends – Arunee, Pang, mr. Jo and other members of the family from the Giant House in Chiang Mai. Thanks to them I also had a chance to peep into the everyday Thai life. Pang is the author of the coloured flaxy covers which are decorated by the embroideries of Hmong tribe people. These unique embroideries are in fact the recycled trimmings from the old traditional clothing. Pang is their keen collector and uses them as covers on her books. This is one of the ways how we can encounter a small piece of an exceptional cultural heritage.

Bratr Christudas je vyznáním křesťan, přesto je komunita otevřena lidem všech náboženství bez rozdílu Vstupní brána do nemocnice pro malomocné, kde bylo vyléčeno již 50 000 pacientů Nemocnice má v současné době kapacitu 140 lůžek Prosté podmínky převazovny Malomocenství zachycené v pozdějším stadiu postihuje nervová zakončení periferií, které postupně odumírají V kolonii Little Flower se dá i bez rukou žít a pracovat s úsměvem V tkalcovských dílnách pracují jen zdraví lidé, bavlnu a hedvábí spřádají na kolovratech většinou ženy Hedvábné nitě se v kolonii měsíčně upřede na 1000 metrů V kolonii je 40 vyučených tkalců a 24 tkalcovských stavů V barvírně se pracuje s přírodními pigmenty, ale i chemickými barvami, které dávají sytější odstíny Krejčí se postupně učí i složitější střihy Kozy patří k nejoblíbenějším domácím zvířatům Lidé zde žijí prostě, ale spokojeně Dětí je i v Little Flower spousta I kozám v Biháru je zima V těchto nádržích vzniká bioplyn používaný na vaření, kraví kobylince zde zplynují, zbytek putuje na hnojení zahrad, elektřina je ze solárních zdrojů Kuchyň  a příprava rótí – placek, nejprostšího a nejlepšího indického jídla