From Making Toys To Making Masks - Fair Trade Artisan Stories

by Pradeep Krishnappa August 18, 2020

From Making Toys To Making Masks - Fair Trade Artisan Stories

A Fair Trade Story About Dilly Sharma & Children Nepal

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world this year.  It has been an unforeseen and immense challenge to change and prepare for an uncertain future. We’ve asked ourselves how we can influence and motivate others when our own hearts and minds are racing? But we will continue to fight for a better world and adapt rapidly. One of our valued partners, Children Nepal, are fighting against all odds to survive and we at Uplift Fair Trade are determined to support them. Here is a story we share to inspire you.  

CHILDREN-Nepal (CN) was founded in 1995 by seven members from various professional backgrounds. They were concerned about the number of children living in marginal society, out of reach of existing social institutions.  They’ve been engaging in rescuing and supporting street children in Pokhara by providing them with shelter, food and basic health facilities. 

One of the initiatives of CHILDREN-Nepal is Suryamukhi Handicrafts. Suryamukhi Handicrafts is a Fair Trade initiative which was established to support marginally and economically disadvantaged women. The primary objective of this initiative is rooted in the principles of Fair Trade. They’ve been a member of the global Fair Trade community since 2002. 



Name: Dilly Sharma 
Organisation: Children Nepal & Suryamukhi Handicrafts 
Location: Pokara, Nepal
Craft Specialty: Textiles, Toys, and Gifts 


Dilly tells us... The initial days of the pandemic lockdown were challenging for all of us. Initially, we supported people (in the community) to get them information about COVID-19 from the health department to share with the community. This was a challenging task. We trained our staff on precautionary measures such as wearing masks, using hand sanitizers and washing hands for 20 seconds. CHILDREN-Nepal supported 500 children and 350 families. Most of these families are daily wage laborers. Since lockdown they’ve been unable to work and they’re not allowed to go outside. The economic conditions of these people has been worsening every day. We identified families who needed support and distributed face masks, medicine and food to them.

Dilly Sharma, one of our tireless Fair Trade champions pictured below, shares a story about how  Suryamukhi Handicrafts and Suryamukhi in Nepal adapted to support the community during the pandemic. 


At Children Nepal no matter how hard it got they did not give up. It was important that they kept their spirits high for the people they were supporting. Despite office staff having to stay home during lockdown, they moved to work remotely, which included organizing producers to make masks and supply local family groups with them.

The pandemic has made the Fair Trade group much more self-reliant and more sustainable by changing their focus as the business declined.  They decided to create a new line of face masks, PPE kits and daily essential products. Uplift Fair Trade are proud to be selling their great quality 3 layered masks in-store and online.


The artisans working in the Fair Trade wing of Children Nepal usually are crafting our cool, funky and educational toys. Not only does it support them to improve the living standard of women and their families by providing them with free vocational training in sewing, knitting, and embroidery.  Any profit from the sale of these items go to the initiatives and implementation of Children Nepal's  great development work in their community.  

Children Nepal, see education as a key to change. The students who interact with the group are from various community backgrounds. 

Children Nepal ensures Fair wages are paid to the graft group. Their wages are higher than the standard set by the Nepalese Government to enable them to earn a decent living. They adopted policies against child or forced labour and discrimination including gender. The artisans are all women and over 50% of the staff are women too. Working conditions are set to Fair Trade standards. The facilities have first-aid kits and fire extinguishers. Each room has adequate natural light and ventilation. They promote Fair Trade awareness by displaying the Fair Trade Principle, logos and information on posters at offices and in the workplace. This information is also shared with our buyers and Fair Trade stakeholders.


Post COVID-19, the focus will be on driving a sustainable local economy through Fair Trade practices,  with a focus on using environmentally friendly, organic, natural, AZO free (non-toxic) fabric in productions. The offices are equipped with solar panels and biogas today.  The parent organization Children Nepal Resource Centre is built using ecological resources and locally sourced recycled materials. They are encouraging the local community to move towards enhancing their livelihoods through local sustainable initiatives such as organic farming and sustainable practices in their homes.

We are very grateful to Dilly Sharma for sharing his insights about the changes that were made in response to COVID- 19 by Suryamukhi Handicrafts and Children Nepal and for his tireless efforts for the community.

Founder Anna with Dilly when visiting Children Nepal in 2019

We’re extremely grateful and fortunate to be partnering with some amazing people globally as we work to bring about change.  

Pradeep Krishnappa
Pradeep Krishnappa


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