The aroma of freshly baked cakes and the joyous chatter of women learning new skills filled the air at AVAG recently. Over three days, 70 local women from nearby villages participated in an intensive training program in making millet-based cakes and cookies, organized by Gelato Factory in collaboration with AVAG (Auroville Village Action Group), Gastronomica, and COWE (Centre of Women Entrepreneurship). This collaboration wasn't just about baking delicious healthy treats but empowering women through knowledge, skills, and opportunity.
Renowned bakers from Gastronomica shared their expertise, guiding participants through the art of crafting fluffy cakes, delectable cookies, and more. But this program went beyond mere technique. It delved into the science of food, exploring the nutritional value of different ingredients, especially millets. These ancient grains, packed with protein, fibre, and essential vitamins, became a symbol of health and sustainability throughout the program.
The participants were eager to learn, not just for themselves, but for their families too. "I am so grateful for this opportunity," said one participant. "I can now bake delicious treats while choosing ingredients that are good for me and my children."
The program culminated in a baking competition, showcasing the participants' newfound talents and fierce determination. While competition was in the air, a remarkable spirit of collaboration shone through. One woman, despite not winning herself, generously supported two others who ultimately received prizes, demonstrating the supportive and empowering nature of the program.
The success of this baking training program lies in its ability to empower women on multiple levels. It equips them with skills for financial independence, knowledge for a healthy life to make informed choices, and the simple act of sharing knowledge and opportunity.
When we asked about the possibility of using this training to start enterprises in the villages, Meena said confidently, “I already have a few orders to make birthday cakes through my father’s contact. Tomorrow I need to deliver one”. Yes, that is the spirit.
Written by Nadia Akcadurak