Ana Art Group from India
is the artisan in the spotlight this week
The fair-trade network Handmade Expressions (now Matr Boomie) started working with the Ana Art Group after being contacted by a young girl, Sana, (shown here with her family) who explained that artisans in her community made jewelry similar to what was sold by the co-operative. She expressed concerns that they were being mistreated by their current employers, and hoped that Handmade Expressions could bring some fair employment and hope for a better future. After meeting with the family and representatives from the community, the network was reminded of the reason why they continue to support fair trade: to provide help to those who need it the most.
Ana Art Group is proof positive that big change starts small. What began as a small and primarily female artisan group working from tiny, congested work spaces in Old Delhi, is now a large community with an increase in education opportunities and improvements in health and environmental impacts to working conditions.
In the first three years, with the help of Handmade Expressions, the Ana Art Group grew from 15 members to 100. Wages also increased with family income about 20-25% higher than standard for artisan work in their area, with flexible work schedules and paid time-off. The increase in wages and community growth is due to the sustainable and continuous work the artisans have received, allowing them to fulfill basic requirements for a decent standard of living.
In regional communities, children commonly enter the work force after the fifth grade, but the success of the Ana Art Group has allowed the community to keep their children, boys and girls alike, in school, raising the average literacy rates of the entire community. Seeing the promises of a better life through their children's education, the artisans have even arranged night classes for themselves. For the first time, members of the group are attending college, signifying a huge cultural shift in attitude towards the female's role. And Sana, who initially reached out to the group, was the first girl in her village to attend college.