The Indian Christmas Connection


Recently the Appletree team got together to discuss ideas for Christmas as we want to continue our commitment to becoming more sustainable as a brand and company. We want to use this time of giving to do something better with the money we might spend on additional merchandise, and we discovered the answer was sat amongst us…. 

We’d like to share the story of one of our valued Appletree crew members and in turn the charity we’ll be supporting this festive season:

Varghees Antony joined Appletree earlier this year and is a valuable asset to our factory in Portugal. Originally from Kovalam, India, Varghees told us the non-profit organisation SISP helped him get to where he is now and is deserving of our support. We’re super proud to learn and now be part of his story and pleased he shared it with us and now you.

Roaming the streets

At the age of twelve Varghees dropped out of the local government school in India as his family couldn’t pay the fees and the school teachers cruelly beat him with a stick. He took to roaming the streets as well as helping his father fish until he found out from a SISP social worker visiting the village that there were other options to pursue.

Thanks to SISP he went through to complete his secondary education and graduated from high school taking part in games outside of school hours and learning to surf even before he had board shorts!

No school, no surf

Through his love of surfing, he was encouraged by SISP to learn how to fix boards and became friends with Jelle, a volunteer with a genius idea to found Kovalam Surf Club for the SISP school kids. Varghees helped to set up a successful ‘no school, no surf’ programme that encouraged children to attend lessons, gave them a safe place to spend their free time, as well as taught them practical skills that have even led to new career paths.

Without SISP Varghees would likely be struggling to earn a living fishing like the rest of his family and most of the Kovalam villagers. Depleting fish stocks has meant there is a lot of poverty and socio-economic issues in the region with not a good outlook for the future and no government support. There is a lot of unemployment due to lack of fish, fishermen turn to alcohol, and domestic abuse is rife.

Varghees gained a good education through SISP, learnt fluent English and was given opportunities that have changed his life. He never imagined getting to where he is now, living in Portugal and watching his son attend school and grow up safe alongside the other ‘Appletree kids’.

Role model

Varghees works hard and really loves working for Appletree. He is happy to be learning new skills and is proud of what he is doing. Kids back in India now look up to him and will hopefully motivate themselves to diversify and find a new path in life. Without SISP there wouldn’t be awesome role models like Varghees to aspire to, and we wouldn’t be lucky to have him here at Appletree.

Watch the video (featuring a young Varghees!) which speaks for itself:

SISP have a wide programme offering education and health care, and support by giving food, clothing and more. They don’t receive any government assistance and funds have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic due to the extra demands locally, and due to donations slowing down.

So this Christmas we won’t be investing our money into new merchandise, but giving back instead in the form of a donation to SISP and we’re also looking into new ways to hopefully support them in future.

If you would like to support the work of SISP then check out