By Vinayak Pant, III semester, University School Of Law and Legal Studies, GGSIPU, Delhi
Place : SOS Organics, Pant Village, Almora, Uttarakhand
Contact : sosorganics.com ; [email protected]
Period of Internship : July 2013. The work hours are from 9 AM to 5 PM
An introduction to the company:
SOS Organics is an ongoing social entrepreneurship project dedicated as a model for holistic sustainable living in the villages of the Himalaya.
Inspired by the work and philosophy of Osho, J.Krishnamurti, E.F.Schumacher, Mahatma Gandhi, Masanobu Fukuoka, Robert Hart, Bill Mollison, Wilhelm Reich and V. Schauberger amongst others.
They incorporate holistic technologies, livelihood projects, traditional knowledge systems together with agriculture, plant biodiversity, culture and environment.
Their concerns include local, organic and bio-diverse farming; re-forestation; the preservation of traditional crops and the environment; eco- education; and strengthened local communities.
They welcome mature and experienced people who would like to participate in the Himalaya to help initiate positive changes in the environment and in the community, to explore on ways to rejuvenate damaged land and benefit the Himalaya for a sustainable future. They ask for creative involvement, self motivation and initiative.
They want to excel in holistic nature observation and soft innovation.
The project is run by Amrita Chengappa and Santosh Thomas-Hoenhe.
Work: The project consists of a factory that produces a number of Organic products ranging from from Essential oils to soaps and food stuffs. As an intern you are expected to find your own work. There actually a lot to do here.
During the internship I involved myself in a number of things, like, helping out with the chakki, cutting up the soaps, packaging, package designing, helping people move stuff here and there, driving down to the city to procure the tax exemption forms from the local tax lawyer and sending off the daily consignments from the local post office.
In addition to all this you also get to attend the number of meetings that the company bosses are invited for. You also get to interact with the various Govt. bodies and NGOs working in the region and attend their various workshops. If you can’t find any work don’t worry at all the perpetually smiling manager, Puran Pandey will put you to work whenever he finds you out of it.
But do not let Santosh find you fooling around too much during work hours, when infuriated the man tend to make Gordon Ramsey look like a schoolgirl(sic). I found this the hard way.
First Day at the internship and crisis struck, nearly half a ton of Tulsi recently sourced from Rudraprayag had contracted some sort of insects and was thus unfit for being used in the production. This lead to a day long brainstorming session where I also offered a number of suggestions .
However, the crisis was resolved when the supplier agreed to take back the infested Tulsi. The typical day was spent running around the factory helping in whatever way we could. Sudden pangs of thirst were relieved by a trip to the kitchen where the cook served up refreshing and totally yummy doses of rhododendron squash which put your energy levels back to the top.
This was topped up with a trip to the town on the company gypsy to procure the company supplies and also ship off the consignments from the local post office. Another major highlight of the internship was the assignments that were handed out to me by Amrita every now and then.
I was given a topic by Amrita to read/ research, such as Monsanto and the infamous Monsanto protection legislation in the US or GMO, and the next day we would have lengthy discussions over that topic.
The discussions have shaped the way I now look at the world.
Also, I got to attend various conferences, meetings, and worshops that were organised during that period by the Govt. bodies and the NGOs operating in the region.
All these events were a great learning experience.
Although there was hardly anything “legal” about this internship but I would still recommend people give it a shot since it really affects you and changes you for good or as Santosh puts it, “Mountains, especially Himalayas, can teach you lot more than any college can.”
Overall, it was a great learning experience. All people there are extremely sweet and helpful. The bosses are ready to teach you everything and anything you want. They’ll even hand out awesome relationship advice in case you need it after having a major emotional breakdown over a girl. :p
Places: There’s an epic place called Mohan’s Café on the famed Kasar Devi ridge nearby. They serve awesome pastas and pizzas at super low prices. You could also try out a few local eateries like the Norzang and Café Bright End which offers spectacular sunset with good food.
Heads Up: Please apply only if you are motivated enough to to do manual labour and are not afraid to get down and dirty. Folks at SOS organics have cut down on their internship programme as a lot of interns do not take the work seriously and tend treat it as a vacation.
Nobody minds a little fooling around the work. But, if you fool around a bit too much for your own good nobody would mind chasing you off the factory grounds for good.
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