St Mary's Mahila Shikshan Kendra is a women's handicraft organization run by the Dominican Sisters in Gomtipur, Ahmedabad. This area of Ahmedabad, once known for its textile mills, suffered much unemployment since global competition closed the mills in the 1980s. It continues to attract landless laborers who come searching for work. Artisans of St. Mary's create mirrorwork embroidery in the tradition of the Kathiawadis, a craft more than a thousand years old. The embroidery utilizes traditional designs of elephants, peacocks, flowers and ferns.
The artisans of St. Mary's share in decision-making and project responsibilities. St. Mary's markets 20 percent of its products in India; the rest are sold abroad. The organization runs a dispensary and maternity clinic that caters to the poor and marginalized women of the area around St. Mary's. It also runs health programs, a savings program, sewing education and children's education programs.
In 1954 a group of Dominican nuns started a hospital in Ahmedabad. Since 1970, their embroidery program has provided employment for women of the area. St. Mary's is intentionally a mix of Christian, Hindu and Muslim artisans working together. During 2002 religious riots in Gujarat state, St. Mary's, with its history of religious understanding, became a refuge for many from the chaos and violence.
Currently Ten Thousand Villages carries cushion covers, table linens, wall hangings and bed covers from St. Mary's Mahila Shikshan Kendra. Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from St. Mary's since 1987.
- Artisan Products