Factory Workers

All Images © Francesca Moore

These portraits taken in a car factory in Chennai are a work in progress that focuses on the people behind India’s recent economic growth – with car manufactoring being one of the most prominent factors contributing to growth in recent years.

Munnar Tea

All Images © Francesca Moore

Aesthetic memoirs of a trip to Munnar’s Tea Plantations in Kerela, South India. Although it’s an arguably stunning and surreal place, much of the native flora and fauna of this region has diminished due to the severe habitat fragmentation of the tea plantations. Many won’t be complaining though, as tea is the most widely drunk beverage in the world…

Get the kettle on, then.

RISE School Staff

All Images © Francesca Moore

With an extremely make-shift studio and only a couple of lights, we managed to get some great portraits of the teachers, head mistress and the CEO.

RISE School

All Images © Francesca Moore

Whilst at Navdanya we met Meegan, who had recently been volunteering at the RISE School, near Pollachi. She said that they could use some pictures for their website, and that it was stunningly beautiful down there, so if we could fit it in we should go and visit.

The school was set up by The RISE Foundation, a non-profit organization with a mission to increase educational opportunities for children in rural India, to give them the same opportunities as city children.

With a few vague directions we realised that the school, in the small village of Thimmanguthu, wouldn’t be too far off our planned route South so we made the arrangement to go and be picked up in Pollachi.

Thimmanguthu was by far the most remote place we had visited in India, perhaps this shouldn’t have been a surprise after the claim of ‘stunning beauty’. The school was nested amongst miles and miles of coconut groves, and was a good 40-minute drive to the nearest community where we could buy the most basic things, such as food.  Had we known this, we would have arrived a little more prepared!

We were hosted in a lovely house on the school grounds, which in itself was isolated on the top of the hill. At the end of the school day all the teachers and students left, except the head mistress and the groundsman, who soon became our favoured supplier of coconuts!

We had a great time hanging out with the children, who loved Lorenza’s innovative sign language for names of fruits, and had a great bring-and-share lunch with the teachers, who said that the pasta pomodoro – with just a little more masala, and a few extra chillies – would have been just perfect! I preferred the Dal anyhow.

These shots show the students at work and play, and will soon feature on the new website and printed marketing materials.

Plus there’s a silly snapshot of us at the house with watermelon smiles.

AIFO

All Images © Francesca Moore

A journey further south saw us reach the AIFO (Associazione Italiana Amici di Raoul Follereau) office in Bangalore and off for a week of hard slog in the rising heat photographing, and capturing video, in and around the Thirumurthy Rural Development Center. We also grabbed some shots at the Sree Ramana School For The Blind along the way.

We met some great people and captured some great shots to show the good work of AIFO among the local communities of the developing region of Malavalli. And people were so hospitable and accommodating whilst documenting ‘a day in a life of’ stories for AIFO’s annual report.

It was great fun hanging out with everyone at the development center, who taught us such amazing things in sign language! And it was a great experience to be able to stay there among the students and staff too.

Thanks to everyone back at the AIFO head office in Bologna and to Jose, Ramesh, Jain and everyone else who looked after us so well at the Rural Development Centre near Bangalore. And with special thanks to everyone that we photographed including Doddamma, Nagaraju, Nagaraju, Ningashetti, Sidderaju and Swetha who all appeared in the ‘day in a life of’ series.

AIFO is an NGO based in Italy, with international outreach in the fight against leprosy and with community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programmes for people with disabilities, including those due to leprosy and people with mental illness.

For further information see www.aifo.it

Bhopal

We just spent a week at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic in Bhopal. I offered up my photographic services voluntarily, and was requested by Sathyu, who runs the clinic, to a) photograph the ayurvedic medicinal garden – this grows the plants for the traditional medicines used in the clinic (alongside western medicines). It is entirely organic […]

Navdanya

All Images © Francesca Moore

Here are some highlights from a week at Navdanya’s Earth University (Bija Vidyapeeth), in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. Navdanya (meaning nine seeds) was founded by scientist and environmental activist Dr Vandana Shiva, who uses this organic farm as an educational platform to promote the art and science of sustainability based on ecological principles.

The farm offers support and training to local farmers in order to promote biodiversity and conservation through the act of organic farming and the indigenous knowledge of seed saving and sharing.

We were here, along with local farmers and many other politically and environmentally active volunteers and interns, to visit the farm and take some pictures.

It was extremely interesting to learn why the education of organic farming practices is currently so imperative to Indian farmers. And to learn that through the misunderstanding that industrialized farming practices, using costly pesticides and genetically modified or hybridized seeds, will produce higher yields. In fact this wasn’t the case – and adopting these methods, enforced by Government regulations, resulted in the Green Revolution during the 1960’s. Theses modified seeds were, in short, not high-producing varieties but only more responsive to chemical fertilizers, needing more fertilizer and thus requiring more water to grow. In a country where drought is endemic, this placed thousands of Indian farmers at economic ruin.

I was very fortunate to have met Chris and Marilyn from The Hummingbird Project, an inspirational couple who lecture in sustainable agriculture using permaculture systems modeled on the synergy of natural ecosystems. I.e. the earth-friendly organic way. I chatted to Marilyn in depth about how adopting Western methods of industrialized agriculture had resulted in the suicides of thousands of Indian farmers. They had just returned from the ‘suicide belt’, where the economic ruin of farmers, arguably caused by the pushing of GM seeds and costly chemicals by multinational companies such as Monsanto, has resulted in farmers literally drinking their pesticides in order to take their own lives. It is estimated that since 1997 between 125,000-200,000 Indian farmer’s lives have been claimed.

I don’t know if this was interesting to me for the sheer astonishment of what had been happening. Or for where I was going next; Bhopal.

I also caught this little snippet of wisdom on The Hummingbird Project blog;

“The beauty of the SEED is that out of one you can get millions. The beauty of the pollinator is it turns that one into the million. And that’s an economics of abundance. That’s an economics of sharing. That’s to me the real economics of growth. Because life is growing.”  Vandana Shiva

The images above hopefully reflect the good work of Navdanya, and the positive results of education, experimentation and research towards a sustainable greener future. For more information see www.navdanya.org

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© Francesca Moore

train journey

  All Images © Francesca Moore On this train journey the thing i liked most, aside from being distracted by the three course complimentary menu for only a three hour journey (something i think Southern could learn a thing or two from when it comes to ‘value for money’), was the view outside the window…

sight seen

JAIPUR_©FrancescaMooreAll Images © Francesca Moore

Seen and seen again… Whilst Lorenza was recovering from a slight bout of Delhi Belly we bravely ventured out to Jaipur City Palace, only to settle on a shaded bench and watch the sights go by. I was anchored on the bench too for moral support. Needless to say, we learned little about the Palace.