Articles Written By: James Hayward

This author has written 15 articles

Oh Ye of Little Faith


Jute Factory BaduriaIt’s not simply that a new ‘toilet block’ surpasses my wildest hopes, it’s that for the first time I can see the potential that this project has and for the faith that our India partners Sid and Sajjan have put in us at WBC to share our vision.

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The battle of good over evil

An idol ‘Durga’ being immersed in river Yamuna, Delhi after the completion of five days Durga Puja Festival, on October 17, 2010. P D Photo by Debatosh Sengupta

With the monsoon finished and the celebrations of Durga Puja over, the end of Diwali signalled a reignited excitement for the India project and another visit in November to look at practical ways we can help to keep momentum going.

Heading along the new highways for the ever shorter drive out to Baduria, bustling Kolkata gives way to the growing suburbs fading in to lush green fields and monsoon soaked lakes. It really is a beautiful time of year.

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While it never rains, it pours!

A woman holds an umbrella while waiting to board a train during a heavy rain shower at a railway station in Kolkata September 20, 2014. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

Our visit to Kolkata back in May this year was full of hope and excitement about the future of our India project; to create employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged members of the community that surrounds our bags for life facility.

We enthusiastically awaited the grand opening of our new building with our bags for life partners Sid and Sajan talking (and walking us through) the blue prints and plans for the building structure. Our whole India family together took part in Durga Pujah ceremony to bless the building and everyone who works in it. And then the rains came.

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Plunkett Foundation Rural Community Co-operative Awards 2015

Plunkett Foundation Rural Community Co-operative Awards 2015

Far from the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, I’ve just arrived back at my Brixton based office desk motivated to share with you why I feel supporting a project like this is so worthwhile.

This was my third year of participating on the judging panel for the Rural Plunkett Community Co-operative Awards, and although I am always rather reluctant to consider myself knowledgeable enough to be a judge of others efforts, WBC now has over 25 years of experience working with a community of independent businesses, who are driven by passion and determination.

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Rome wasn’t built in a day

Cocobagh outer building

The new Cocobagh training unit is really starting to look impressive.

Whilst the building is still very much an empty shell, our motivation to get this project up and running is back. It’s amazing how easy it is to get deflated when things don’t move quite as quickly as you hope for, especially when you can’t help but look at the project through ignorant western eyes.

We’re slowly learning that workers in India very different priorities from many of us here in Europe. And that’s ok.

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The best laid plans of mice and men

Jute factory Kolkata

The foundations for our new Cocobagh centre in Badhuria, West Bengal have been laid but we’ll be honest with you, it’s a frustratingly slow process and right now the project just doesn’t seem to be moving forward at a pace that will ever achieve anything. That building in the background is not our project building, the goat chewing on some grass in the paddock in front is where one day our centre will stand.

Tomorrow’s another day. We won’t be beaten!

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