Anwari smooths an assortment of thick soft leather and colorfully striped circles across her worktable. As her fingers glide across the leather and fabric shapes, she carefully binds them together until they become solid and secure. With each progressive step of her artisanal process, her collection of circles and stripes transform into new creations of strength and purpose.
Three years ago, as a married woman in India, Anwari never dreamed she could become a skilled member of an artisan community. What began as a desperate response to disheartening circumstances has become a source of strength and dignity for Anwari and her family.
Before Anwari became a Trades of Hope artisan, her husband struggled to keep up with the constantly increasing expenses of caring for her and their four children. Day after day, their debt grew until groups of creditors began coming to their home to collect money. Overwhelming school fees for their son and three daughters became more and more impossible to manage.
Raised in a culture where girls are expected to marry young, stay at home, and raise children – while their husbands bear the responsibility of providing alone – Anwari felt helpless and trapped in a cycle of increasing debt.
Choosing to Make a Difference
With no training, experience, or skills, Anwari courageously challenged their cultural norms and her own self-limiting beliefs by deciding to join a local artisan group. She committed to learning the highly skilled process of handcrafting leather. For the first time in her life, Anwari was able to earn income to help her family.
Now creditors no longer come to their home. Anwari’s children can attend school without the fear and shame of being unable to pay their fees. As her confidence grows, she eagerly welcomes new opportunities to continue expanding her artisanal skills and is determined to master the art of stitching next.
Like the circles of leather and fabric Anwari crafts, together the couple has become strong and secure. Anwari has found happiness in the close community and “cozy atmosphere” of her local artisan group. She thanks Trades of Hope for “securing her life” but still struggles with depression and anxiety, afraid that one day, orders will stop coming, debt collectors will return, and her children will have to drop out of school.
How Can I Make a Difference?
How can Anwari and women like her provide lasting financial security for themselves and their families?
Trades of Hope’s handcrafted leather bags, like the Forever Crossbody, are personally made by Anwari and other women in her artisan community. You personally provide these women with increasing financial security when you purchase the Forever Crossbody bag and other Trades of Hope handcrafted leather products.
But your Trades of Hope purchases provide these women with more than just income. Once these women and their families accumulate debt, the deeply oppressive caste-system of their culture makes it nearly impossible to rise above their circumstances and see any hope for a better future.
Even when they have the courage to challenge cultural norms and their own self-doubts, many women in India fall prey to sweatshops with unfair pay and dangerous working conditions.
When you purchase Trades of Hope products, you provide Anwari and women like her with the security of knowing that creditors won’t be coming to their houses to collect debts. You provide them with protection through supporting Fair Trade artisanal communities where they can work in safe and uplifting environments. You provide them with validation through providing them with fair compensation for their artisanal skills. You provide them with recognition when you proudly wear their craftsmanship. You provide them with encouragement that their choices can make a difference in the lives of their families and communities. You provide them with hope for a better future.