In the second half of last year Mr. Troels, CEO of the Danish-owned multinational retailer 'Bestseller' , which designs, manufactures and markets garments and fashion accessories via a chain of 2,000 outlets around the world, visited South India in connection with a company plan to send a new year gift package to all 13,000 of its employees. What was special about this package was that it was to comprise items/materials which, in course of fabrication, would help provide employment opportunities for impoverished people in the Tsunami-hit areas of 2004.
While in India Troel visited Upasana in Auroville, through which Tsunamika had come into being and has been continuing to reach out to humanity as a whole. The visit was a great success. Not only did he like everything he heard about Auroville, but he was very enthusiastic to include Tsunamika dolls in the company package, and asked to be sent 54,000 of them. Meanwhile he made a major contribution of 6.5 lakhs rupees (approx US$14,445) towards the Tsunamika project, and committed his company to further ongoing support.
The dolls were delivered by Upasana in good time, and Tsunamika went out to company employees in some 30 countries around the world at the end of last year, packed in a hand-crafted banana-fibre box made using components supplied by people from 4 villages, together with a papier-mâché model sun made by a community of lepers near Pondicherry, a small wood block for hand-printing Indian motifs on fabric or stationery by another community, and a clay whistle created by a master craftsman using an ancient design, which he had taught a whole coastal village to make for income. Additionally, each gift box contained a DVD explaining the background to the gifts, how each was made and by who; a semi-precious stone from north India; and a small scarf made of old silk saree, which was used to wrap everything. The box thus not only helped large numbers of Tsunami-hit people, but also helped company employees learn about the lives and skills of people in a country different to their own.
So widely appreciated was the gift box, and so enthusiastic was Bestseller about the Tsunamika project, that they invited Uma and Manoj to visit Denmark. They visited Denmark in the 3rd week of April 2006.