With the dual aim of supporting the local economy and promoting eco-friendly products, Deer Park started a sustainable livelihood training program in June 2008. Under this initiative, a group of local villagers have learned to make handicrafts from recycled materials, including greetings cards made from scrap paper, and bags, wallets and other products made from cloth scraps. These products are now being successfully sold in Deer Park’s gift shop, with the profits going to the local team members. Besides the initial training, Deer Park has provided the handicraft team with a permanent workshop on our campus and support in developing new products. Two of the young women from the handicraft team are also being trained on our campus in IT, office work and other vocational skills.

The second phase of this program introduced ‘Shanti Chips’, a healthy eco-friendly alternative to mass-produced packaged snacks. Made by the handicraft team using a traditional recipe, these home-made potato chips are sold in brown paper bags at Deer Park and in the local market. This has inspired visitors to look for alternatives to packaged snacks.