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Swatches, Block Printing and 5000 KM on The Train

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Dilshad block printing one handed
Just back from a very good trip visiting three producer groups in S. India to find out the current capacity of each of the groups, collect data, see the status of outstanding orders and refresh our understanding of their present situation and future plans. Oh and collect some stories!

Bethany Leprosy Colony is thriving and this time I and MESH Designer, Syamala, spent more time with the members of Jone Priyadarshini Mahila Mandal, a women’s society in the colony involved in sewing bags and purses including the velvet urn bags sold in Canada. The group is an inspiration. Bethany is a great place for petty jealousies and controversies if everyone does not get equal opportunities, so the way these women manage their affairs, juggle complicated production rosters to make sure that everyone gets a chance to earn turn by turn as the orders come in, greatly encourages me.

Whilst we were there we were able to show them how they could use some donated cotton swatches to produce smart little purses which MESH is buying for our Delhi and Hyderabad shops…..look out for them and celebrate their efforts and the generosity of the commercial company that donated the waste fabric for the women.

The Physically Handicapped Rehabilitation and Training Centre (PHRTC) is struggling as most of the weavers have been on strike for five months. There was so much to talk about there.

The block printers in Hubli Rehab and Training Unit were the busiest I have ever seen them and it was especially wonderful to see the skill of Dilshad as she managed to place the block again and again using only one hand whilst her less disabled colleagues used one hand to hold the block and the other to steady it into place. (more about Dilshad in a few days watch out for it).

We covered 5000 kilometres by wonderful Indian railways. The Indian countryside was a treat, there were some shocks and disappointments in our findings but I have returned freshly convinced of the need to make sure those skilled crafts people continue to get orders and regular work.

Jacky Bonney
23.2.2012