Weavers, Bethany Leprosy Colony
Our handwoven cotton bags are made by a small group of weavers called Village Hands International at Bethany Leprosy Colony, Andhra Pradesh, India. The group consists mainly of women. We started this project in October 2013 during a visit to the colony. During the time of our visit, the women were largely unemployed or working under the scorching heat in the fields doing manual work to make ends meet.
You can read here the kind of stigma attached to leprosy in India.
The bags use traditional weaving skills combined with 100% cotton and upgraded finishings for the Western market. The weaving gives employment to 8 – 10 women. The women are able to work from home, while looking after their households. At the time of writing, a workshop is being built at the colony to upgrade production to employ 14 – 16 women.
We visited in February 2015 to work on new products for 2016. Here are some photos:
Above: Ramona (left) with weavers Annapurna and Kumari.
Above: Some of the weavers coming to wish us farewell on our last day.
Above: Progress made on the workshop in February 2015.
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In June 2015, Little Trove started collaborating with Operation Orphan (a UK based charity) to deliver business projects in areas where Operation Orphan was operating, in order to secure sustainable incomes in poor communities so that eventually there will be less reliance on pure aid. Operation Orphan on the other hand is helping Little Trove with its existing business projects by helping fundraise to provide working capital or seed money for production.
On 23 June 2015, Operation Orphan donated £875 to the Bethany Leprosy Colony as seed money for the financing of production of new products for the 2016 season. This money will give weaving work to 6 – 8 women for a few months. Without this money and Little Trove’s involvement, the women find making a living rather difficult with their husbands either unemployed or on very low wages. Many women have been forced to do hard labour in the fields, when such intermittent work is available, to make ends meet.