How your Shared Trade Gifts Give Back

by Michelle Wijaya December 16, 2015

Your purchases this holiday season make an impact in the lives of women artisans around the world. One of our partners, Anchal Project, shared the following story from one of their artisans, Nazia. Anchal Project is a nonprofit social enterprise that addresses the exploitation in India using design thinking to create employment, opportunities, services, and products that support empowerment. See a collection of their beautiful one of a kind, hand stitched quilts made from recycled saris here.  

"We work really hard to make stuff that people like. When people buy our products it means that we can clothe, feed & educate our children." - Nazia


In a 2012 trip to India, we asked several of the artisans enrolled in our program what differences Anchal has allowed them to make in their lives. Since the inception of Anchal in 2010, artisans have experienced dramatic changes—Shakuntela invested her new income in her daughter Parthi’s private education, Nita moved out of the slums into a home of her own where she is no-longer stigmatized for her previous life as a sex-worker and Nafisa became a leader in her community. When we asked Nazia, a twenty-year-old woman with a six-year-old son who was recently abandoned by her husband and struggling to support both her son and sick mother, she responded both simply & frankly: She could now buy fruit for her son. Prior to Anchal, fruit was an unaffordable luxury. Nazia would carefully navigate around the fruit aisle at the local market so that her son wouldn’t be tempted by what she couldn’t give him.

Nazia + Son

Hearing Nazia’s tale was a raw, honest, and above all, humbling moment. Our prior perceptions on change were contingent solely on materialistic, economic changes in the lives of women. What Nazia’s sense of accomplishment taught us, is that the change in day-to-day life can encompass the difference in perception of what constitutes poverty. Sometimes the seemingly smallest changes reveal the biggest impact. In our 2015 trip to India, we sat down with Nazia again, who has since become a project assistant, and asked her the same question. She now pays for her son’s education and a private tutor 2 times weekly. She sits in on the lessons & learns alongside him so that she can answer any questions that he may need help with. Her dream is to facilitate the environment & provide him with the opportunities he needs to fulfill his own dreams. To witness Nazia, who once struggled to provide food – the most basic need – support her son’s private education & elevate her family from entrenched poverty is the heart of what our program is about.

Michelle Wijaya
Michelle Wijaya

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