Our producers and their stories
In 1978, craft in India was going through an especially low period due to the influx of cheaper and sometimes better, machine-made goods. Craftspeople were increasingly being marginalized and their products trivialized as 'ethnic' and purely decorative.
Artisans - especially women - were exploited by middlemen, and the craft they practised was fast losing its identity to cater to market demands. Customers had no idea about what they were buying and artisans had no idea who was buying their products.
SASHA was created to address these issues.
Sasha works with nearly 100 groups of disadvantaged women and marginalized producers & artisans from rural and semi-urban pockets of North-East India, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and some other states.
"I proudly say that this work has not only supported my family but also helped me to bring up my two daughters well and provide them with a proper education." - Shanti (Kolaghat Socio-Economic Welfare Society)
Miss Long Ya
" I can do everything ", she says with a smile.
Mrs. Ya is one of the first artisan's who joined MANAVA. She has extensive experience in weaving. The precision and quality of her work is astonishingly beautiful. Ya is one of our teachers.
There are twenty four rural artisans women who are currently working with MANAVA from Krobey Riel village, located ten kilometres from Siem Reap city, Cambodia.
- From MANAVA -
BEE: My Story of Hope
I was one of the first women to join Starfish Project. Before that, I worked in a brothel with an abusive owner and was constantly surrounded by violence. I am the youngest of six sisters, and my older sister is the one who introduced me to Starfish Project.
At Starfish Project, I have a healthy work environment where people are kind and respectful to each other. I learned that people can be honest with each other. I love that I have many real friendships here. As part of my job, I get to inspect raw materials provided by the Raw Material Inventory Manager before they are used by the Production staff to make the jewelry.
I love that my coworkers at Starfish Project celebrate my life and achievements.
Before joining Starfish Project, I never had a birthday party and was never celebrated as an individual. Now my birthday is celebrated each year, along with my personal and professional development.
- From Starfish Project -
LAN: MY STORY OF HOPE
I joined Starfish Project in the middle of COVID-19. I had been working in brothels for many years before that. I never expected to work in a brothel. I had a normal, I would even say good, life before I was tricked into a job I would’ve never chosen.
Over 20 years ago, my husband and I moved to the city. We started our own business selling auto parts, and our dream life began. Our business took off, and we were able to buy an apartment and a car. We had a beautiful son and began the life we had left our family and village to build. Our dreams were coming true, and we were even able to send money back home to help our family.
Then, unexpectedly, my husband got sick. He was diagnosed with a very aggressive skin cancer that needed immediate treatment. To afford the best treatment available, we began by selling our apartment, but eventually we had to sell everything, even our business, to try to save his life. Yet the cancer was too aggressive and spread quickly, taking his life within the year.
After my husband passed away, my son and I were alone in the city. I had no home, no business, and no way to provide for us. I was hopeful when my cousin, who runs a massage parlor, told me she could offer me a job. I was prepared to work hard to rebuild a life for me and my son, but I was not prepared for what was expected of me in this job. Having nowhere else to go, I stayed. I did what I had to do to provide for my family.
When COVID-19 broke out in our city, business was bad. Neighborhoods were locked down. Yet, the Starfish Project Outreach Team still found a way to visit us and deliver care packages with essential items like masks and hand sanitizer. The team invited me to join Starfish Project to begin a new life in a stable job, making jewelry. I couldn’t believe it! So many times I have tried to find a way to escape this life, but there seemed to be no way out. I jumped at the chance to change my life and be a good example to my son. I am so grateful for this opportunity to rebuild my life again.
- From Starfish Project -
Chido initially comes across as quite shy but the more you get to know her the more you see how much she loves to have fun. She gets fully involved in all the games we play at our parties and is often looking for a radio so we can get the party started on a daily basis! She is known in the workshop as the ‘Interpreter’ as she makes sure everyone knows what is going on! Sadly, Chido lost a child in 2011 and although she is now doing well this has had a big impact on her life.
Dreams for the future
My dream is to be able to start a family.
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
I am happy when my husband comes home from work. My ideal day would be spent watching movies while doing my knitting. I also love going out for a walk and shopping with my husband.
FAVOURITE THINGS ABOUT GOGO OLIVE
Gogo Olive makes me feel safe. It means the world to me because I know that I always have people to hold on to. I have people to talk to, we have lots of fun together and at the end of the month I know I will have money.
- From GOGO Olive -
She has worked at Global Mama since 2012, Esther as a quality control batik and seamstress champion as well as a tour guide for volunteers. She was encouraged by a Mama to apply to this organization and it has since helped her in many ways.
Esther explains that “I am asthmatic and the drug for asthma is very expensive. Before I could not afford to pay it myself, but after working with Global Mamas, I am able to buy the drug without the help of anyone.”
Her most fundamental goal is to provide for her family. By working at Global Mamas, she achieves a steady income to take care of her sister’s three children. As an ambitious young woman, her dream is to own and manage her own business. She hopes that her work with Global Mamas will provide her with enough savings to open a cosmetic shop and develop as an entrepreneur.
- From Global Mamas -