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Physically Disabled Artisan Initiative

  • This nonprofit artisan group in South India, employs individuals with physical disabilities. The artisans are provided with medical care and are given a choice of crafts in which to be individually trained to best utilize their abilities, including block printing. Established in mid-1970s, it offers handicraft training in conjunction with rehabilitation, and eventually, long term stable jobs, to physically disabled persons. The social stigma then, and even now, increases the social and economic disadvantages these individuals face. The group aims to give them access to financial independence and, potentially, an avenue to social acceptance, allowing them to reintegrate with their families and communities.
    Eighty-five individuals are employed, with over 60% working from home. Raw materials are dropped off at their homes and finished products picked up. Around thirty-five artisans live in town and commute to work. Each worker is paid a living wage, regardless of how many or how few products they create, because of their physical limitations.
    Artisans have access to free medical support. Those that work from home, receive door-to-door service from their homes, to a medical facility, where they may go for regular checkups.
    Three to six months training is provided at the workshop in a craft of the artisan’s choice. In certain cases, tools are specially designed to accommodate the artisan’s disability, and to aid the artisan in completing their task. Artisans also have access to interest-free housing loans, maternity leave, and subsidized meals.
  • Sustainability & Fair Trade
    • Hand block printed
    • Handmade – requires very low amounts of energy
    • Eco-friendly, low impact Azo-free dyes and Water based inks
    • Unbleached, unprocessed (Kora) cotton fabric
    • Reusable - machine washable
    • Crafted by disabled men and women, who are affected by social stigma and physical challenges
    • Skill trainings & capacity building
    • Fair, steady wages
    • Free medial support
  • Along with work skills, artisans gain confidence and self-esteem. Many have also have gained new social standing in their family and community. They may travel and have the opportunity to meet and interact with diverse individuals in their field.
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