A special mission from the Calcutta Rescue aid organisation has been invited to attend the annual Fuji rock festival this month in Japan, where thousands of music fans worldwide will converge to see chart-topping acts, including Coldplay and the Asian Dub Foundation.
For the second year running, a team of representatives from the charity, which provides medical aid to Calcutta’s poorest and runs schools for streetchildren in the city, has been allocated space at the concert, known as the Glastonbury of Japan.
In a bid to raise funds and boost international awareness of its work, the aid group is shipping thousands of items of traditional Bengali handicraft to Japan’s Naeba ski resort, where the concert takes place on the weekend of July 25–27.
“Right now, we’re shipping a large load of locally-made Bengali handicrafts, which we will sell at the concert,” said Calcutta Rescue’s Joe Hughes. “The concert organisers have allocated us stall space at the venue. This is a positive opportunity to boost publicity for our organisation and raise essential funds.”
Items, including embroidered handbags, coin-bags, purses, mirrors, keyrings, notebooks, and assorted trinkets, will go on sale. They are all handmade by former patients at Calcutta Rescue clinics, now employed by the organisation and trained in the manufacture of customary Bengali artefacts, a skill that will help them make a living.
A new line of textiles, fusing eastern and western influences, has been designed by Calcutta Rescue specifically to appeal to the Japanese market.
Zoe Hope, the London-based textile designer who oversaw the manufacture of the goods, said: “We will be selling a range of Calcutta Rescue bags tailored by me to suit the Japanese market. Vintage saris have been used to make purses and bags, and classic pieces hand-stitched with our elephant motif. It is traditional Indian, with a contemporary edge.”
The charity runs four clinics for the poorest in the city, along with two schools dedicated to the education of streetchildren. It is currently working to expand its presence, with schools in rural West Bengal. This week, a major new initiative was taken to instal arsenic filters to purify water in Malda town.
Calcutta Rescue founder Pamela Wynne’s former partner, Sixties blues legend John Mayall, and his band, The Blues Breakers, will also be performing at the Fuji jamboree, along with their son, Gaz Mayall and his cult reggae band, The Trojans.