Ahmedabad, India was once famous for its textile mills, but when global competition became too great, many of the mills were forced to shut down, leaving countless women either unemployed or with unstable seasonal employment.
St. Mary’s Mahila Shikshan Kendra is an artisan group founded by women, for women. Giving artisans the option to work either in a workshop or at home, mothers with young children are able to care for their families while earning a livable wage.
The work they do is in the traditional Kathiawad style, incorporating tiny reflective pieces into embroidery known as “mirror-work.” This style of embroidery has been a custom of the Gujarat region of Ahmedabad for centuries. All of the cotton is hand-loomed using only local thread in order to support neighboring workshops. To purchase one of these beautiful textiles is to show your support for these women who work hard and appreciate your interest in the labor of their hands.
Your purchase helps provide maternity care, health programs, children’s education programs, and training in the craft of embroidery for the women of St. Mary’s Mahila Shikshan Kendra.
Below are a few gift ideas from the artisans at St. Mary’s Mahila Shikshan Kendra – Gifts that empower women:
Depicting mother & baby elephants and peacocks, this colorful tree is symbolic of hope and peace. Tiny metal discs catch the light just right in the traditional mirror-work fashion. And with each thread lovingly stitched by hand, this wall hanging will evoke an authenticity that is difficult to miss.
A pillow to match the wall hanging, comfort was never so luxurious than with hand-stitched branches, animals, and flowers with tiny reflective centers.
Art you can wear! These headbands come in assorted colors.
Joyful butterflies flutter around swirling vines in this pillow with stitching as precious as a butterfly’s wings.
Simple and elegant, the design of this tablecloth brings a serene and peaceful air to the dining room. Stitched with the grace of nimble fingers, the joyful colors of the blossoms bring to mind a fresh spring day.
A bag just small enough to carry the essentials without weighing you down on your travels. Colorful thread stands out against a neutral backdrop for a fashion statement that pops.
When you give any one of these items to a loved one, you can tell them the story of how your purchase made a difference. Spreading the word about fair trade is a great way to do your part to promote peace on earth this holiday season.