Tag Archives: India

More, please! Meals at our Madurai Site

india_madrai_lunch_2017__47_

India, bustling and beautiful, offers countless historical and cultural experiences. Colourful clothing, rich history, and new connections are just some of the amazing things you’ll discover as a visitor. One of the most important, captivating, and diverse things about India is it’s incredible cuisine.

Characterized by regional ingredients and rich flavours, Indian cuisine is a highlight to locals and visitors alike. Dishes vary regionally due to the availability of ingredients, customs, and preference.

Our Madurai site is located in the region of Tamil Nadu, India. Locals hold the historical belief that serving food to others is an important service to humanity.

india-madrai-lunch-2017-59

Rice, legumes, and lentils are common staples throughout Tamil Nadu, and nearly every meal is served with a side of rice. Vegetarian and meat-based dishes are both equally as common. Some of the most popular meats are chicken and fish, while tamarind and coconut are used to flavour to vegetarian dishes. Some meals are traditionally served on banana leaf to add flavour and visual appeal, especially for special occasions. There’s so many unique dishes and variations- much too many to list!

Masala (a spice blend) is commonly used to add a fiery, complex flavour to dishes. Masala contains a variety of spices such as coriander, curry, cumin, ginger, garlic, chili, pepper, and nutmeg. Masala in the Tamil Nadu region is always freshly ground. There’s no one recipe for masala- usually, it’s an individual household secret!

On a visit to our Madurai Sponsor site, we got the incredible chance to sample their cuisine first-hand. Families at St. Theresa’s Primary School held a food fair, where they prepared their favourite dishes for the elementary school’s staff and Canadian visitors. They were excited to share, and we were equally as excited to taste!

india-madrai-lunch-2017-63

Families proudly hung colourful posters with names and explanations so visitors could learn more about the dishes. Some of the most popular dishes were biryani (spicy rice,) dosas (savory pancakes,) sambar (a thick, lentil based stew,) Meen Kozhambu (hot and sour fish stew,)  and Masala Vada (crispy fritters.) You could feel the pride and effort that went into preparing the food in every bite.

No meal is complete without dessert. We finished the food fair with a traditional pairing of tea and other desserts, including Boorelu (sweet, deep fried balls flavoured with coconut and cardamom.)

Want to try your hand at a few of these delicious dishes? We’ve gathered some simple recipes you can make in your own home (to find some of the more uncommon ingredients, check the international section of your local grocery store):

india-madrai-lunch-2017-55

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to see more recipes, stories, and updates from Chalice.

Planting the Seeds of Hope

 

india_star_senior_woman_farming_livelihood_jasmine_201716_

After Ajai’s father passed away in a tragic accident 13 years ago, his mother Sudha struggled to make ends meet. “I was helpless at that time, and did not have the helping hands of relatives,” says Sudha.

In 2015, Ajai was accepted in to the Chalice sponsorship program through our STAR site in India. Thanks to God’s grace, he was chosen by a sponsor shortly after. “Sponsorship eased my burden and allowed my children to be educated to a greater extent,” Sudha explains. Ajai’s now a thriving grade 11 student, and his brother has continued his education in college.

With the help of the circle group that helps manage sponsorship funds, Sudha took out a small, low interest loan. Combined with the extra funds from sponsorship, she was able to start her very own agricultural business. She now leases a half-acre of land to grow jasmine flowers, a highly valued product on the Indian market. She’s able to pick flowers every second day for up to six months a year. Her jasmine garden allows her to provide even more support to her family.

sudhaa

Sudha is proud to own her own agricultural business, and is overjoyed by her newfound stability. She’s able to support herself and her children without constantly worrying about her income. “I thank Chalice from the bottom of my heart for providing this wonderful opportunity to fulfill my family’s needs, and allowing me to become self-sufficient,” Sudha says. “Thank you for all your support.”

Follow Chalice on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from our sponsor sites, impact stories, and more.

Ms Geetha and her new sewing machine.

“Give A Man a Fish…”

Power for a sewing machine: 220 volts. Power for a chainsaw: 58 volts. Power for an oven: 240 volts. Power for a man or woman to earn a consistent, competitive daily wage: stronger than the sun!

Unemployment among parents is a consistent issue across all of Chalice’s sites. Finding daily wage work (such as agricultural labour) is challenging and often seasonal, and permanent positions a pipe dream to many. Naturally, many people become entrepreneurs, making use of their skills and available resources to start a small business – be it a handicraft, or a service, or an agricultural endeavour.

But as we all know from shows like Dragon’s Den, any new business needs capital up-front. To sell the tomatoes, you need to buy all the materials to grow them. To sell woven saris, you need to buy the loom and the silk. To sell flowers from a cart, you need the cart!

That’s why it’s so exciting to meet community members in the Chalice sites who have taken the plunge with a small business with an item either given from the Gift Catalogue or with a loan from their Chalice Circle Group. The impact of such every-day items is almost immediate, and that impact is significant!

For instance, I met Mr Munyamuthu in the village of Edaiyar, a part of Chalice’s STAR site in India. In that region, most people rely on daily agricultural labour jobs, such as picking and weeding, to earn income. However, that work is inconsistent at best, and often disappears when the local crops are out of season, or the harvest is poor due to lack of rain. Mr Muniyamuthu’s family were among the people who relied on this source of income, but also had one other asset –  a sound system they could rent to major events, especially weddings. Through the Chalice Gift Catalogue, he was able to purchase a Samiyana, a brightly-coloured tent canopy, also to be used at weddings and large events. He has had it since June of 2017, and has already made several bookings. He is able to take more than 1,000 rupees ($20) with a single day’s rental. He joked with me that he always wears a white shirt and dhoti (the traditional long, skirt-like garment) so that he looks likes the brides who want to rent his tent!

Mr Muniyamuthu, his family, and their new Samiyana tent

Mr Muniyamuthu, his family, and their new Samiyana tent

I met Ms. Geetha, who lives in the village of Thatanur, also a part of STAR in her tailoring workshop. She and her son were abandoned by her husband, and she was left destitute. She was forced to move in with her parents. In June 2017, she received a sewing machine from the Chalice Gift Catalogue. She now runs her tailoring operation out of the back of her father’s restaurant. With the new machine, she is able to do double and triple the work than she was able before.

Ms Geetha and her new sewing machine.

Ms Geetha and her new sewing machine.

When I was in Nanyuki, Kenya, the local Chalice staff were eager for me to meet Mr. Josphat. Before Josphat’s child was enrolled in the sponsorship program, their family’s life was very difficult. He was a “hawker” – selling small items such as socks and vests (undershirts) in the street.  He and his family lived in a slum.  He always wanted to start a business, but could never get the capital up-front to do so. When Josphat first received the Family Funding money from Chalice, he bought one piece of charcoal, and sold it. Then a bag of charcoal. He expanded to selling a small amount of tomatoes. Now he has trucks full of tomatoes and onions to sell at his market stall. He has been able to move into a house near the market, with land for more farm production. His children had never slept inside a cemented house before – and they loved it! The whole family is also grateful that the sponsorship program has allowed all of the children to receive a good education. Josphat dreams of being able to buy an acre of farmland and begin cattle-rearing, securing the long-term financial stability of his family.

Josphat at the produce stall he owns and runs with his wife.

Josphat at the produce stall he owns and runs with his wife.

Everyone here at Chalice loves to see these dynamic parents investing in their families and the futures of their children. The fruits of their hard work, not to mention their bravery in the face of risk, shows in the ambition and success of their children. It’s like that saying – “Give a man to fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” It’s almost like Chalice adds “Give a man a fishing rod, feed him, and his family, for generations.”

 

— By Kate Mosher, Creative Specialist and Photographer at Chalice

08-17_india_star_da77-copy

Talk About Street Art!

On my first day in Kumbakonam, the town where Chalice’s Tamil Site is based, my colleagues and I took an evening stroll through a residential neighborhood. I kept seeing chalk designs on the ground in front of the house’s doorway. Some simple, some more elaborate.

08-17_india_tamil_kumbakonam_school_154

My colleague explained to me that this practice is called rangoli, or sometimes kolam. Residents, often women and girls, will draw fresh ones in the mornings and evenings in front of their homes. At times, such as on special occasions or during festivals, the designs will have specific means or honour specific deities. Sometimes they are just decorative and an opportunity to get creative.

One woman came out and offered to let us watch as she drew a fresh one for her home. Expecting a simple design like the ones I had seen before, I pulled out my camera, expecting to film the entire process in about a minute. But with a guest and a gathering audience, our artist drew an intricate design that took at least a quarter of an hour!

08-17_india_tamil_kumbakonam_school_165

 

Throughout my travels in India, I was greeted with many beautiful and sophisticated rongoli designs.

08-17_india_star_da77-copy

 

Too bad in Canada, we tend to spend more time shoveling our front stoops than drawing in chalk!

— By Kate Mosher, Creative Specialist & Photographer at Chalice