Its our first real day in Delhi and we have headed straight to MESH design studio and plunged into ordering new products. The sampling is sweetly interrupted by a visit from two of the Tatting Ladies, from Annand Craft. We have a chance to hear about the project, see their latest products which they are delivering to MESH and to hear their stories. We are about 20 mins in and one of the ladies happily recognises Anna from her last visit to India!
Amongst other questions Anna asks "where does the money you make go towards". They both answer, for their kids education, their craft has meant they have been able to put their kids through school. We can see on their faces their pride at this - education for their children means the cycle of poverty will be broken.
The fairtrade premium, the extra money they get has gone towards improving their electricity - the area they live is susceptible to power outs and they have been able to contribute to transformers which help the power stay on, no-one can do anything in the dark.
They graciously leave, but not after Jackie from MESH has put the hard word on them about selecting someone to come along to a workshop on Fairtrade MESH is running later in the week… It was fantastic to meet them, hear a little of their stories and see their latest creations.
The Tatting group began in 1999 in a leprosy colony near Delhi when some members of the Womens society there started to make products to sell. They were taught tatting skills by an elderly English lady called Eve. At the time, the ladies spoke no English, so there was a lot of demonstrations and gesturing, mistakes and laughter. As far as they know, they are the only group using this craft technique in India. The Women’s Society provides social activities and support for the women of the colony and meets regularly for different events and gatherings.
It sprang from the fact that the women could not go out to work because they were needed at home to look after their young children. The tatting group provided a way to socialise and learn new skills together and take work home to complete while they were caring for their families. They are happy that small orders throughout the year enable them to earn some income for their families needs. The women meet regularly to work together at the community hall and then take their work orders home. They each had a little box with their equipment in it.
Had no knowledge of tatting before. Celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary, has 2 children - 1 at college, one about to finish school. The project has made a difference in her life by providing an income to pay for their children’s school fees, books and household things.
Studies til year 10. She has a son finishing school, who wants to be a technical engineer and a daughter doing nursing. She especially enjoys the time together with other women. She was lonely at home on her own especially as her husband arrives back late from his work at 11pm. She likes the way the women share their problems. Before she had children she worked at a family planning clinic. She has been part of the tatting group since it began.
Anita is the womens group secretary. She explained that Mesh started the group in 1999 to provide cultural and social activities for the women. There are 58 members now. She is the contact person for the tatting group, speaks to MESH about orders. She organises the women’s work, draws up timelines, does marketing, purchases materials, provides samples and ensures the work is completed in time. Anita married soon after school and didn’t work after that. She has been a member of the group since it began but didn’t do tatting at first as her two sons were too young.
Gulshan is the president of the womens group. She is very proud of her children studting fine arts. As her husband is a teacher she doesn’t have a financial need to work outside the home. The difference the group makes in her life is that it provides a place for her to socialise with other women and forget her problems. She loves tatting now and can read and follow patterns but found it very hard at first. She is very proud of her work and really pleased that people in Australia like the products they create.
The difference the group has made is that the work is so much better than her old job working 12 years in an eport house. She is very happy becoming a grandmother recently and has 3 children. She has been involved in the group for 9-10 years and loves meeting up with the ladies to talk and work.
Did not want to talk initially but shared the story of how she lost her 12 year old daughter in an accident not long ago, she fell from a building. The group provided support, comfort and understanding for her over the time since the accident. It gave her something to do and a place to talk about her sadness. She is the youngest in the group and explained that she loves learning from the other women. If she needs help with anything she has so many friends to ask now.
Barbara Orrock reflects: "The thing that is striking about visiting groups like this is the community and friendship Handicrafts give. What is also so exciting on seeing the ladies talking about their children. The fact that they have been able to get their children through school and university is a massive achievement, ending the cycle of poverty."