Artisans from India
Bidri Ware employs skilled artisans in a southern Indian town. The artisans use an ancient handicraft skill that features alloy of zinc and copper inlaid with thin sheets of silver. The eight-stage process entails molding, smoothing, chiseling, engraving, silver inlaying, smoothing (again), buffing, and oxidizing. Through their employment with Bidri Ware, the artisans receive increased payment for their work, which allows them to better provide for their families.
Channapatna Handicrafts is located in a quaint southern Indian town. The artisans use a special skill called lac-turney, a 200-year-old craft traced to the reign of a royal ruler who invited artisans from Persia to train the local artisans in making wooden toys. The process of shaping and coloring the wood is carried out on a lathe, a machine that turns pieces of wood while the artisans use sharp tools to shape them. Artisans then apply a vibrantly colored lacquer made by mixing natural, nontoxic vegetable dyes.
These lac-turney products are carved from hale wood, also called ivory wood, a local species of tree that grows widely throughout south India. Usually the entire tree is not felled, and the tree grows back. Therefore, the materials used in the craft are natural and eco-friendly.
In the last decade, without proper support in marketing, the number of Channapatna artisans has declined considerably. The craft was dying. With help of WorldCrafts, the artisans of Channapatna have been able to reach the global market, helping the sales of handmade products and improving the livelihoods of the artisans and their families. WorldCrafts empowers the artisans by reviving the craft, providing better working conditions and sustainable incomes, and creating employment opportunities in the community.
In cities such as Kolkata (Calcutta), India, many women live in traditional patriarchal communities and are not allowed to work outside their homes. ConneXions offers these women the opportunity to collect the raw materials for their quilts and scarves and take them home to produce. This opportunity to work from home and earn a living wage opens the door to economic empowerment for the artisans. With the income received through their employment with ConneXions, the artisans are able to increase the educational opportunities for their children (especially their daughters) as well as help their families survive setbacks, particularly when illness or unemployment strikes.
In some villages of India, a woman may not remarry, even if her husband has passed away. This tradition forces women to become the sole provider for their children, even though they don’t have any marketable skills. Godavari Women, a group of artisans that creates crocheted lace items, allows women to completely depend on their artisan skills for their income. They also gain medical insurance, first aid, eye checkups, and free eyeglasses. Godavari Women’s dream is to teach and train all 25,000 artisans living in this area to use and hone their talents.
Within each stitch of the Himalayan Tapestry artisans’ handiwork is a story of illiteracy, abuse within marriage, and culturally conditioned gender discrimination. While these Indian women suffer quietly, they are expected to carry the financial burden of their families. The women come to Himalayan Tapestry with little education and no basic skills, but here they learn to quilt, tailor, read, and manage money. Working with this organization enables women to make money from their new talents, and it enables them to receive crisis counseling, which brings financial and emotional comfort to their troubled lives.
Love Calcutta Arts
The scarring influence of the sex trade does not affect just one generation in India. Despairing mothers often leave a legacy of poverty and prostitution to their daughters, who in turn carry on because they know no other lifestyle.
Enter Love Calcutta Arts. Their handicrafts unit enables young women to support themselves with dignity and help their mothers leave the sex industry. These hardworking women make high-quality handmade paper products in a loving environment where they learn of their Father’s love for them.
Noah’s Ark is an innovative network of 100 fair-trade artisan groups, representing 600 individuals, across India. Artisans work with a variety of materials, including wood, paper, and metal, to create contemporary products using traditional methods. All workshops are committed to providing sustainable income in an environment of honesty and integrity. As Noah’s Ark grows it has been able to support schools for artisan children and provide filters for clean water.
Mary grew up in an orphanage in India with a bleak outlook for her future. When time came for her to leave the orphanage, she was deceived by an offer of marriage and found herself instead in a brothel. She escaped and tried to commit suicide multiple times, the last time by eating glass. A member of Rahab’s Rope artisan group found her dying in the street and brought her to the center. Many young women like Mary have found a lifeline at Rahab’s Rope, where they discover new opportunities while making handcrafted items.
The young women of Shelano have come from the slums in the south of Kolkata, India. Finding a job is difficult, if not impossible, with their background and limited education. By purchasing their handmade products, you are not only getting a fairly-traded product, but also giving a woman an opportunity to take care of her family and invest in the future. Each throw is unique and is made by a unique woman with a unique story. As it goes from her hands to yours, you are help a woman earn some money of her own and contribute to her confidence and well-being.
Vijaya Deepam Trust
Vijaya Deepam Trust works with young women in their early 20s to mid-30s in India. These women come from impoverished backgrounds, and the money they earn through Vijaya Deepam Trust allows them to feed their children and pay for their education. All profits made through the sale of their products are shared among the women. Some of the women’s spouses are addicted to alcohol, leaving them to be the family’s primary providers.
As a result of globalization and ever-changing markets, Indian artisan groups are challenged to take the skills native to their various castes and trades and utilize them in more diverse and marketable ways. Many must educate and provide proper medical care for their families on only a few dollars a day. Village Artisans helps men and women fulfill their potential through their talents in creating beautiful handmade jewelry, scarves, bags, stationery, carved wood, and natural soap products. As a result, these talented and now empowered families are able to meet basic practical needs and provide hope for the next generation.
White Rainbow Project
The White Rainbow Project is transforming lives by sharing love with the widows of India. It provides vocational training, food, and medical care to destitute widows in Vrindavan, India. Vrindavan, known as the City of Widows, is home at least 20,000 widows who have been abandoned by their families. White Rainbow Project is recycling hope for these widows by helping them create beautiful handmade products out of donated saris and old magazines. Recycling takes on a whole new meaning, as this is one of the only options widows have to support themselves. They have been told they have “bad karma” and are blamed for the death of their husband. They are shunned, exploited, and denied any sense of dignity. Earning their own money gives them freedom to choose their own destiny, many for the first time in their life.