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Published April 1st 2018
Vibrant quality handicrafts from a genuine Nepali charity
Bright colours advertising handicrafts had attracted my attention and it was close to where I was staying. The mystery deepened when several times I found it locked up. But it turned out that it had been the Hindu Diwali Festival, a holiday where traditionally people visit their family.
My luck turned and I had just entered the shop when I was invited to join two Australian ladies on a tour of the entire complex. We walked down the long driveway and marvelled at the chrysanthemums in the front garden. Then when entered the administration building, we realised that we were in for a real treat.
Fair Trade signs were highly visible, scattered about on labels and walls. This charity was registered and performing on a global platform. Ashim, the local Communications Manager of this old-age home and handicrafts centre, came to greet us as he was our tour guide this morning.
My brief glimpse of the shop had impressed, quality colourful goods well displayed - a broad range from cards to bags, clothes, jewellery, instruments, heavy cotton linen and fine woollen Pashmina products. And we were about to view the behind the scenes production.
Firstly we visited the hostel accommodation for the 'socially discarded people' [their term] which included mostly lepers with digits and occasional limbs missing. There was one delightful elderly blind lady, who had been left at the top of a cliff by her family, maybe hoping she might edge closer. But she was too scared to move a muscle and was rescued some days later. I also recognised a delightful 'challenged' young man who was a well-known local character. These people were housed, fed and cared for in a simple but holistic manner.
Then we toured the various buildings where they worked to make all the crafts I had spotted in their shop. Cutting and glueing cards on handmade paper, weaving clothes in all sorts of delightful patterns, making strong handbags and backpacks. Weaving carpets, stitching things together - there was a job for everyone at the level that they were capable of.
We visited the clinic where they get vital medical attention to dress their wounds and encouragement to continue their mediation to completely eradicate their disease. We saw an interesting little village of cottages built closely where the majority of workers live. The hostel was more for the elderly and infirm, whilst the healthier were able to build their own dwelling from the income made.
Lastly, we went upstairs to the sewing room where donated funds had supplied machines for those affected by the earthquake to learn skills in order to generate an income. Nepal does not have social security or any safety net for the vulnerable, so this charity provides schools, vocational training, clinics, rehabilitation, handicrafts, accommodation and so much more across the country.