Tribal population in India is a community that is underdeveloped both economically and socially. They mostly live in isolation from mainstream population. Women especially often find it difficult to be employed in the mainstream jobs. However, they are very good at traditional skills, which are tapped on by We Will Help (WWH) Charitable Foundation, a not-for-profit based in Mumbai.
If you have ever longed to taste tribal food, ‘Tribal Lunch’ in Aarey Colony is where you should go. Meals with authentic food are organised in a rustic setting for city dwellers to experience the rural life.
“We were working in Aarey Colony which is a home to many tribal communities and Mumbai’s forests since about a decade. While working for upliftment of people we realised, it was important to empower women there. They work in fields only for two months in a year. They cannot continue it round the year as they lacked water for farming,” said Eugene Das, Trustee, WWH.
It was after many discussions and brain storming with the community that they thought of tribal lunch. “Being household women, we thought about their culinary skills. We asked them to cook some authentic food for us. We tasted it and further organised some lunch sessions for our friends. They loved the food and the tribal ambience. That’s when we decided to organise the buffet for all,” said Cassandra Nazareth, Executive Officer, WWH.
It is not only the mouth-watering food that will attract you. To make the experience an indigenous one, there is a local flea market and Warli painting classes among other activities. Guests are taken to visit the local area too. “We have developed a brand called ‘Tribal Tadka’ wherein products like local spices, sweets and decorative among others. We had a very good response during Diwali and Christmas for our products,” added Nazareth.
Guests can learn Warli painting and get mehendi done by the artists there. Acoording to Das, about 75 women are benefitted due to this initiative out of which 50 are involved in cooking and the remaining in other activities.
The programme has connected the urban community to the isolated tribal one leading to helping hand for the latter. Many guests now relate well with the ethnic tribe, understand their problems and support them. “We have received many smokeless chulhas from guests. Also, we have people who come here to celebrate birthdays, distribute things like blankets, cycles and clothes that the local require. It is good to see patrons finding ways to help the tribal community,” said Das.
Started since early 2016, WWH organises these buffets once a month. They ask their patrons in advance to bring along things like clothes and toys which can be used by the tribal folks. “Seeing the change that women are able to make, many young boys have started helping too. We are handholding them but they are almost ready to stand on their own feet and be independent now,” Das added excitedly.
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The CSR Journal Team