Only a few people are able to feel what I felt today: an association of beauty, and a community of hard work, devotion, love, and a dedication for a better future.
Today I had the honor of meeting Joseph Chittoor, a wise man, as well as a Catholic Priest. A man who comes from a family that loves the growing of medicinal plants and trees. He has a degree in Theology and has written several books about traditional medicines. He is also the one who set up Vanamoolika, where I am staying for five days to study medicinal plants.
I recently stumbled on the story of this charitable organization, which is run by 375 women. They are the ones in the family who get the money for the cultivation of the certified organic herbs. In addition, the women receive profit sharing from the sales of these herbs, and are getting a better price for their products because of the medicinal purposes.
Father Joseph Chittoor, after traveling the world, had a vision of helping the poor who had no money to buy allopathic medicines. Living in the beautiful rural areas of India, he envisioned that he could also help those families get organized in making their own medications according to ayurvedic principles.
Some 20 years ago, Vanamoolika became a fact and right now the 375 women are divided into 25 groups of 15 women each. Each group has its own leaders consisting of a President and Secretary. No religion is involved and the whole organization is a democratic process where only women develop the organization. They cultivate about 700 different plants and today there is an official GMP-licensed factory that produces a diversity of different certified organic medicines.
All plants and trees are collected from the farmers around the area. Because of the profits of the organization, the farmers are being paid a fair price. The improved lives of these farmers have given the women of the organization a sense of security, self-esteem, and pride because it is their own female organization.
Besides herbs and plants, they also produce local coffee, spices, coconut oil, ginger, and cocoa. Now families in this rural area have children who can get an education and a better life style what would not have been possible before. One thing to mention here is that older plants are cultivated and not taken from nature. No wild harvesting will ever be involved and every plant being removed will be re-planted afterwards in order to sustain nature. All herbs and plants are cultivated without using pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
How proud I will be to start using these wonderful natural organic ingredients in Paul Penders products. Ingredients made with such love and care.
Today, on the second day of the study visit, I was invited to see the factory. I was amazed at the devotion of the women diligently and lovingly making medicines from the herbs and plants that are collected by the farmers.
I saw modern and traditional methods of manufacturing under GMP conditions, as well as modern lab facilities. The tinctures smelled fresher and more potent than any I remember smelling before.
One of the interesting products I saw today were chocolates made with medicines for different functions to improve health conditions. Conditions such as improving stomach ailments, headaches, and energy. A product that is also good for children because children like chocolates so much.
As I sit here writing, on the balcony of my hut made entirely from the wood of 20 medicinal trees, I am surrounded by flowers, jackfruit, and bananas . I smell the typical fragrances of some of these medicinal herbs when the wind softly blows in my direction. I am thankful for being given the chance to tell the world about the great vision of Father Joseph Chittoor to empower women who previously had nothing. Now they have the possibility to give their children the education and chances in life that are meant for everyone.
Part 1 Love-Labor & Determination
Part 2 Meeting Fr. Joseph Chittoor, a visionary Priest
Part 3 The President of Vanamoolika
Part 4 A Gorgeous Ayuredic Doctor
Part 5 Ayurvedic Massage
Part 6 Inspirational Visit to Indocert; Indian Organic Certifying Agency
Part 7 Journey to Vanamoolika