I didn’t want to go. I wasn’t feeling well. I was tired. A nap
sounded really good. And I heard a little voice saying, “Go Ashley,
you need to go.” We had been hearing about this cashew plant in
Mangalore from our hosts all week. Cashews are a favorite nut in
India, and Achal Cashews is a source of pride for the community. I
pushed down my arrogance and my Western ideas about what I thought was
of value to see and hopped on the bus.
We arrived and were shown around the plant. A sweet nutty smell was
in the air, loud machinery echoed through the rooms. 95% of the
employees are women. They have benefits, including health care and
childcare on site. There are dozens of women silently working. I
could not do this meticulous, grinding work. I am aware of my
entitlement and privledge again, and I am humbled.
I lag behind the group, smile, and say hello to three of the women
sorting the nuts. They giggle and smile back. “I see you; I am
bearing witness to your work,” I think. A student shared that this
gives new meaning to the familiar words we often pray, “We thank you
for the hands that grew this food, and for the hands that prepared
We thank you for the hands that washed these nuts, cracked them open,
sorted them, hauled them, roasted them, prepared them, and packaged
At the end of the tour I buy a bag of cashews and a box of cashew
sweets, and I notice that I am paying more than the daily wage. We
get back on the bus to go visit a temple, munching on cashews.