A Wish to Live With Block Printing

Traveling as diplomat children, we’ve been brought up in various cultures, always fascinated by the people, food, and crafts. My sister and I have always had a strong pull towards crafts, especially Indian textiles.  We’d always look to bring Indian textiles, jewelry, and crafts into our home. However, the truth is that it was hard to find the true treasures amongst the mass-market goods. Indian craft market was hidden in the villages with very few outlets in the mainstream market except for a few stores.

At the same time, my sister was working to finish her Masters in Textiles, specializing in the ancient technique of Block Printing with natural dyes.  The timing was right and with the passion for crafts and a desire to scour and promote craftsmanship. I quit my 11-year software engineering job to set off with my sister on a craft tour of India.

We met many artisans and their families and saw that most of them were connected with their art as a tradition passed down from their ancestors that they also wish to pass down to their children. We also visited a few NGOs that are supporting farmers, artisans, and women. And we loved it all!  With such history and tradition in making of a product, it was just not possible for us not to be part of it. And thus came about ichcha, or ‘a wish’, to live and encourage conscious living; conscious of the environment and of the value and life of the products created and sought.  indigo-curtains-drying-ichcha

Ichcha – A Wish to Live

While Ichcha is also about expressing our artistic side, it’s also about encouraging the artisans to find dignity in their art. “Ichcha for Artisans” is an endeavor to encourage the artist within the artisan, giving back 100% profits to the whole community that makes the product possible.  All hands are awarded the credit of being part of the end product; the treasure that makes it’s way into the customer’s home.

How we got started…

Back in the days, India, specifically the region of Rajasthan, was filled with multiple tribes who were known by the work they did. One of those groups was the Chhipas or Printers. They used to create the printed clothing for the various tribes in the region. Each design, with various motifs, specified your job or the tribe you belonged to. You could tell whether a person was a farmer or Metal smith by the printed shirt or turban worn.

The strict separation of the tribes has slowly dissipated but what remains are a few stories by the elder generation still keeping alive the secrets of the motif and the craft of block printing.

To the artisans we work with, the art of block printing has been their tradition and their way of life, for the past four generations. It continues now to the latest generation that strives to keep the family craft alive by finding new markets and ways to keep up with fashion. The only thing that remains true is the beat of the wooden block on the table, the 20 year old and 10 ft deep indigo dye vat, and the passion to continue.

What is Hand Block Printing?  

Hand Block Printing with natural or vegetable dyes is an ancient print technique. This art form has been around for years in India, and saw its most glorious years around the 12th century. Today, it is competing against the fast world, but surviving only because to the people who still value them.

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Step 1 – BLOCKING. Block means a wooden square piece with an engraved pattern on it.  This block is used to print on fabric – and this art is called block printing. The fabric is then commonly called block print fabric.

Step 2 – CARVING. Master block carvers, who have been doing this for many years, carve these blocks. These blocks are carved by a chisel and wooden hammer to form a design pattern.

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Step 3 – PRINTING. There are a couple of block printing techniques but the one that we work with is called Dabu.  Dabu is a mud resist made by mixing together fuller’s earth, gum and few other natural ingredients.  It is mixed into a paste not by hand nor by machine, but by foot, just like grapes were crushed to make wine in the yesteryears!

Once this paste is ready, the fabric is printed with a block using that resist.  The areas that are stamped resist any dye that the fabric is dipped in.

Step 4 – DRYING. Sun is crucial to this process.  At every step the fabrics have to dry in the open fields under the sun.

Step 5 – DYEING. After the fabric has been printed, it gets dyed. We work with dyes that are made with natural materials found in our surroundings, such as flowers, leaves, spices and various other natural metals.  Below is an indigo vat that has been going on for several years.

Step 6 – WASHING & DRYING. After dyeing, the fabrics get washed by hand. More so than not, block printing is a multiple step process where the fabric gets re-printed, re-dyed to bring out the designs we want.

Use Coupon code “goeatgive” to receive 20% off any purchase at   www.ichcha.com. Offer expires May 30, 2016.

~ By Rachna Kumar, co-founder of Ichcha, for Go Eat Give. 

An Introduction to Laos

Home to the beautiful Khone Papeng Falls (largest in southeast Asia), ornate temples, while being the “World’s Most Bombed Country” from the Vietnam War, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has endured a long history of hardships.  Like most countries in Southeast Asia, Laos has been a target for colonialism from France, as well as Japan. Laos gained independence as a constitutional monarchy in 1953 from the French but with the impact of Vietnam War, they faced their own arduous civil war (1953-1975) that resulted in the establishment of a communist government in 1975. Laos

Currently, Laos struggles to develop as a nation, however it does not stop their people from being known for their honesty and simplicity, often attributed to their Buddhist roots. A large part of Lao culture is derived from the influences of Theravada Buddhism. Even with the invasions from foreign nations, Laos was able to maintain their Buddhist religious culture from the eighth century.  Buddhism is a vital part of the people in Laos. Every village has a Wat (temple) where the people worship daily in the morning and the evening. The most revered Buddhist stupa is thought to be established since the third century, the Pha That Luang is covered in gold, and shines bright in their capital city of Vientiane. Although Buddhist influences dictate an important part of Laotian culture, there are influences far before the establishment of Buddhism.

muangngoi-laos-women-rice field workersMusic and food have been two consistent aspects of Laotian culture that have prehistoric origins. The khene is their national instrument created from bamboo pipes which is traditionally used to play folk music. The khene has uniquely Lao origins and is still used in ritual ceremonies and festivals to courting women.  Stick rice is another staple of prehistoric Lao traditions which has more meaning to their culture than one may think. They consume the most sticky-rice per person than any other country in the world.  Yet, it is more than a tasty part of their everyday meals. They see it as a vital part of their culture, some groups of Laotian people plant a unique khao kam rice near their home in reverence to their dead parents or they will plant it on the edge of their rice fields to indicate that their parents are still alive.

Laos-Khon Phapheng WaterfallThroughout their history of annexation and occupation, they are still able to maintain their culture and thrive in their agricultural industry.  Eighty-percent of their exports is surprisingly not rice! Laos is especially known in the southeast Asian region for their coffee production. They have ambitions to expand their market in beer production and have started creating a buzz around the world.  Laos still encounters many challenges as any other developing country but being able to preserve their culture over the past thousand years has been a remarkable accomplishment for a country that has been constantly exposed to foreign influences.

To learn more about Laos, attend Go Eat Give Destination Laos on March 19, 2016 at Pattaya Cafe in Atlanta, GA. Click here to learn more. 

~ By guest blogger, Lilly Iijima. Lilly is a student at Oglethorpe University pursuing a major in International Studies with a minor in Japanese. Growing up in a multi-cultural household, she has seen first-hand the power of personally experiencing a different culture to eliminate previous misconceptions. Through this work, Lilly is committed to educating others about different countries and regions while learning about them herself.

Add These Superfood Recipes to Your Diet

Most of us start off with a New Year’s resolution to eat healthy and loose weight. We go on salad only diets, avoid alcohol and sweets, exercise more regularly and try to convince ourselves, that we will burn off those pounds we accumulated through the holidays. But the truth is, most resolutions last about 3 weeks and majority of Americans gain 8-10 lbs. each year.

Perhaps this year you can try something different. Incorporate superfoods into your daily diet, throughout the year.  Superfoods are exceptionally healthy foods that are packed with nutrients and have health promoting properties. Can you identify some of these superfoods?

Photo courtesy ecowatch.com
Photo courtesy ecowatch.com

Here are some recipes using superfoods from Peach Dish to get you started…

The SuperFood Salad

superfoods salad

This hearty, filling salad is made with kale (high in Vitamins A, C, and K), wheat berries (packed with fiber and protein), almonds, olive oil (both healthy unsaturated fats), antioxidant-rich dried dark berries and pomegranate juice. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, and green soybeans, also known as edamame, add protein and iron. Learn more about the SuperFood Salad in this video.

Flatbread with Smoked Salmon, Artichoke & Arugula

superfood flatbread recipeSalmon has a high level of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and protein. Artichokes are rich in magnesium while arugula is packed with Vitamin K and antioxidants. Some added lemon zest lends extra Vitamin C to this flatbread, and we create a more healthful base by using whole wheat flour for added fiber and protein.

Sautéed Chicken with Cauliflower, Arugula & Date Salad

superfood chicken recipe

Mediterranean ingredients jazz up everyday fare like chicken and cauliflower (the new kale of superfoods!). Salty olives and sweet dates are a tasty combination.

PeachDish is a Southern inspired, national meal kit delivery company. They are introducing a 2016 SuperFood Series this week, available now through February. Each refrigerated PeachDish box is packed with all the ingredients and recipes needed to make dinner at home. The Atlanta-based company ships nationwide and works directly with farmers and purveyors throughout the South to source the freshest ingredients. PeachDish’s in-house dietitian Mary Alice Shreve and Culinary Director Seth Freedman developed the nutritious, superfood-centric recipes as healthy menu options to kick off the new year.

The SuperFood Salad, incorporating 8+ different superfood ingredients, will be a mainstay on the menu throughout the series. Each week, a new SuperFood menu option will be offered. Expect dishes highlighting a variety of powerhouse ingredients, like wheat berries, pepitas, kale, edamame, and more.

~ Contributed by Laura Fryer of Blue Hominy Public Relations.

Eat Well and Give Back in Atlanta

Atlanta foodies, we’ve got something for you! Your chance at an inexpensive culinary tour around metro Atlanta has finally arrived with the release of the Atlanta DiningOut Passbook. This tiny book of two-for-one entrée deals features over 50 of Atlanta’s favorite eateries and over $1500 in value. Participating restaurants include Agave, STK, Apres Diem, Anis, Murphy’s, No Mas Cantina, McCray’s, Sun In My Belly, Meehan’s, Einstein’s, and dozens more!

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In addition to eating good, purchasing the passbook also benefits the non-profit Open Hands Atlanta. Look at you, you philanthropist foodie!

Enjoy the Atlanta DiningOut Passbook for only $39.99, regularly $99 with special discount code GOEATGIVEPASS2015. What’s more? DiningOut will donate another $10 to your favorite charity, Go Eat Give. That’s a win-win for everyone.

So start saving, eat well, and give back along the way!

Reminiscing about Brazil with Go Eat Give volunteer, Amanda Villa Lobos

Meet Amanda Villa Lobos, a 26 years old energetic and passionate lady currently volunteering at Go Eat Give. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with her for the last few weeks as we worked side by side on Destination Brazil. Since our initial encounter, I have been drawn to her perceptions of the world, largely because it’s very evident that she has travelled vastly. The experiences she has picked up along the way make her a wholesome individual. She tells me a little bit about Brazil and the memories she has of her beloved home country.

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When and where were you born?

I was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1988, and thereafter my family moved to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. Most of my time in Brazil was spent there. My parents are diplomats so I lived in many countries across the world. However, I spent a total of about 8 years in Brazil, traveling back and forth.

What is your fondest memory about Brazil?

My favorite childhood memory is climbing mango trees and snacking on juicy yellow mangoes. I enjoyed that so much. I would look forward to the weekends just so I could climb mango trees. I would be the only one climbing, and I think it’s my love for nature that prompted me to do so. Despite living in Brasilia, I was very much in touch with nature. I remember making teas with different herbs that I picked up, and making juices out of fresh fruit that I would find.

You’ve travelled vastly around the world. What do you think sets Brazil apart from other countries?

The people! Brazilian people are very hospitable. They invite you to their homes and share their personal space with ease. Sharing a meal, amidst laughter and great music, with friends and family is the order of the day. The relations amongst people are deeper and there’s a deeper sense of belonging. Everybody is welcoming and friendly.

What’s your favourite Brazilian food?

Meat tastes way better in Brazil because the livestock is grass-fed. Brazil is a huge country and every region has something special to offer. Our food is also highly influenced by different cultures from Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia, because we are a nation of diversity. This is evident in the huge variety of food that we have. For example, while making Feijoada, a Portuguese black bean stew, the locals would mix the beans with water/broth with some pork ribs. But the best Feijoada was made by the African slaves, because they added the ears and tails, typically parts of the pig that were thrown away, to the stew that made it a richer, thicker sauce. Today this is one of the most popular dishes in Brazil that gets friends and family together over the weekends.

Coxhinia is my favourite pastry. It’s a little piece of dough that fits perfectly in your mouth, and it’s stuffed with chicken and cheese. It’s crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. It literally melts in your mouth. Cuscuz Paulista could also easily be one of my favourite dishes. It’s made out of different flours and delicately finished in the shape of a round cake. It has tomatoes, green peas and shrimps around it, and looks like a beautiful cake.

What do you miss the most about Brazil?

I miss the beaches. If I could wake up every day in Rio, looking at the sand and beautiful water with the waves breaking, then I would be the happiest person alive. There’s nothing more healing than being close to water for me. And people who live by the ocean are so peaceful, especially in the mornings, because they pass by the ocean before work and this gives them energy and Zen to face the day.

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~ By Christine Okwaro, event planning and fundraising intern at Go Eat Give. Christine grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and has lived in China and Switzerland. Her personal blog is www.thetravellers.de

Dreams Become Reality in Bali

Sadly, most children we sponsor do not even have a comfortable bed to sleep in – but that has already started to change thanks to new donations for mattresses.

One of the things that is shockingly apparent when we visit families of sponsored children is their poor sleeping conditions. We’ve teamed up with Go Eat Give to donate 8 new mattresses to needy families in Bali.

When Go Eat Give visited us recently, they asked us what they could do to help give immediate comfort to the children we help. Of course, mattresses was right at the top of our priority list.

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With all sponsorship funds going to support children’s education, it is sometimes difficult to provide things that we know families need – such as mattresses.

It’s a sad fact that the majority of children we sponsor don’t even have a suitable bed to sleep on. The families that were previously struggling with school fees simply don’t have the disposable income to afford mattresses.

Mattresses are often old, falling apart or simply thin sheets that are extremely uncomfortable.

A complete set of good quality mattresses, pillows and sheets can cost over $120 – more than most families make in a single month. It really puts it into perspective how much need there is for decent quality beds.I Putu Suandika 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Eat Give supporters clubbed together to raise $1,000 USD – which enabled us to buy 8 top quality mattresses for the most needy families on our sponsorship program.

Meanwhile, Tsarina, who recently sponsored Novianti had also asked if she could donate a new mattress to Novianti’s family. Tsarina had been to visit Novianti with our staff and had seen their sleeping conditions first hand.

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Our team had the pleasurable job of purchasing and delivering fully equipped mattresses to the delighted families.

We were greeted with huge beaming smiles of families that were so grateful to finally have something comfortable to sleep on. The children were especially excited with the rare gift.

The families of gone from only dreaming of new mattresses, to actually having them.

We are so pleased to be able to provide additional support for families of sponsored children. But we can only do it thanks to the support of kind donors.

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Soon we will be launching our Mattress Appeal, which aims to secure many more mattresses for the children we sponsor. Please stay tuned!

If you would like to donate a mattress, please consider giving $120, which will purchase a new mattress, pillows and sheets for a child. We will provide full receipts and photographs of where and who your mattress has been donated to.

Remember to mark your donation ‘to purchase mattress’. You can donate here.

~ By Aron Hughes at Bali Children’s Project (BCP). Aron is from UK and currently living in Bali, Indonesia, where he does marketing and public relations for BCP.