06 5 / 2012

Turbine India Project - Update Eight.

Shopping for silk and traditional handmade mud bangles in the 400+ year old market at Charminar in Hyderabad, India.  These beautiful bracelets are now at the Turbine Boutique in Halifax!


02 5 / 2012

Turbine India Project - Update Seven.

While visiting Imamguda for a free Health Camp for the villagers, I ventured to discover a temple with women and girls sitting quietly in the shade.  With the help of bodyguard (and dear friend!) Zishan, I asked if they would mind if I took a picture of them in their beautiful sarees.  Not only did they say “yes”, they asked me to photograph them individually!  So that’s what I did.  Although we spoke not one word of a common language, we communicated friendship and community.

26 4 / 2012

Turbine India Project - Update Six.

Saree shopping in Mumbai…

25 4 / 2012

I had the pleasure to meet DR. R. Padmavathi, principal of Success Vocational Junior College in Hyderabad and speak with her students, most of whom are young women from surrounding villages studying medical sciences.

Many of these young women were not encouraged to get an education but have determined to push forward in order to better provide for their families and to be an example of strength to their children.  Some, having married by the age of 13 or 14 are now in their early twenties and juggling full time studies with raising two or three children.  I was taken by their bravery and grace…

I shared a bit about my business and family and then each of the students told me about themselves.  The hour that had been allocated quickly turned to four as they opened up and told me stories of hardship, poverty, fear, and now hope for the future. 

The following day, with the coordination assistance of my friend Satish, the students ran a health camp at the nearby village of Imamguda, population 750.  Residents were alerted that if they attended the clinic, set up in the local elementary school, they would receive free blood-typing and basic tests, along with a routine exam.  There would also be some free medications distributed as required.  

(Being interviewed for TV9 India to explain the Health Camp concept and discuss the importance of promoting good health among those who can least afford health care services.)

(The students were served a hot meal prepared by villagers as a thank you for their service and dedication.)

Most of the patients were treated for minor illnesses but as the clinic was nearing closing time, a family approached us as we sat nearby in the shade.  The wife explained that her husband had oral cancer and had his tongue removed and despite treatment at a major hospital, was not getting better.  She passed me her husband’s medical file and although the file stated that 4 rounds of chemotherapy had been administered and charged to the government under a plan for impoverished residents, there was no evidence that he had actually received the treatment.  After a few more questions it came to our understanding that the expensive treatment was most likely replaced with glucose intravenous and this man was now gravely ill. 

As Dr. Padmavathi explained this to the family, all eyes filled with tears.  I wondered what level greed could allow a medical professional charged with the care and treatment of this struggling family’s patriarch to pocket funds and leave him to die.  His wife, who spoke not a word of English, locked eyes with me and pleaded for me to do something to help them.  I was utterly helpless.  As Satish translated, I said “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”  And we both cried.

It was another day of the extremes of emotion in India.  Happiness for the residents, who were so thankful; sadness for a family destroyed by the greed of someone they trusted to heal and protect; pride for the students who gave of their time and skills to help others.  Again, I am filled with gratitude.



For more pictures visit the facebook album here:


23 4 / 2012

We visited the village of Pochampalli, near Hyderabad, India, which is famous for yarn tie-dying and hand weaving. Although the old world techniques are still in practice after five hundred years, the number of skilled craftspeople is dropping drastically due to mass production by the mills.  Many families are struggling as the 5th and 6th generation trained in this skill with nothing else to fall back on.

The following photos illustrate the process from silk strand to finished garment…

The weaver sits in a hollowed out area in the concrete at waist-height.

The patterns for a silk saree are hand drawn on graph paper before yarns can be tied off and dyed.

The tie-dye process…

Tie-dye finished and left to dry.

Several looms prepared and ready for weaving silk sarees.

This is the yarn-dye “laboratory”, outside of the work space.

A block away at the shop, viewing the handwoven silk sarees and cotton scarves. I selected my saree fabric! (Stay tuned!)

To support the families of this trade and help sustain this dying art, verify that you are buying product from a source that supports hand-woven, fairly traded goods.  You will also own a piece of a centuries-old Indian tradition. 


23 4 / 2012

On the evening of April 20th we visited an orphanage in Hyderabad to surprise the 50 children there with a cake.  We pretended that we were celebrating a “surprise birthday party” for everyone!  The children were so excited when they recognized Satish Sikha’s Healthy Kids Happy Kids Foundation car pull up to the door.  Several little ones ran our to greet us and huddled so close it became difficult to climb the two flights of stairs to the concrete room that they spend their days in. 

Once upstairs, they sat quietly in neat rows of plastic garden chairs, youngest at the front, eldest at the back.  Although they knew that the bag on the table in front of them was certain to hold a treat for them they remained seated quietly until asked to each stand and tell their name and grade, or “class” as they refer to it in India.  Once everyone had done so, they sang us some songs, prompted by Satish and Zishan.  My eyes welled with tears as they sang so joyfully amidst such stark surroundings.  When they started chanting for me to sing for them I finally gave in and sang a song from my childhood… “gentle breeze, blowing through the trees, and a meadow filled with flowers showing me your gentleness… how I love you…”

Written on the cake was “We love you Lisa”.

It was my honour to serve the cake.  The children were so polite and patiently waited until it was their turn to be served; not one moved from his or her seat. 


It was on this very day that my dad, who lost his battle with cancer in 2004, would’ve turned 64 and I couldn’t help but feel his presence in the room with us.  He loved children and they were drawn to his gentle giant stature and sparkling blue eyes.  I imagined him enjoying a piece of “his” birthday cake with a couple of little ones perched on his lap.  He would’ve wanted to rescue them all from such poverty.  I sat with my cake and my thoughts and fought to stay composed.

As we pulled away in the car Satish pointed to the 3 story building that was the orphanage and told me that the children were contained on the floor we saw with a main room for school and play and 2 small rooms that slept boys in one and girls in the other.  The other two floors house a call center to solicit donations from all over the world.  I was also told that the owner of the orphanage lives in a mansion across town.  It’s a sad reality in the third world and a lesson to us all to research before we donate overseas, and better yet, spend some time visiting firsthand and determine how we can help these children directly.



For more pictures visit the facebook album here:


15 4 / 2012

Dear Friends,

Lisa is traveling to India this week and will be going to some of the slum areas in India with the Director of Healthy Kids Happy Kids Foundation to distribute healthy biscuits for the children. Make a donation towards this and enter our draw for a leather Sam Satchel and a set of Indian brass bangles! 

We hope to raise enough money to purchase one thousand biscuit packages so please SHARE this if you want to help us!


The Turbine Team