Our producers are the heartbeat of our organization. Their tales have a common theme - by becoming more financially independent, their self esteem and social standing has exponentially risen. They command a greater sense of respect within their male-dominated villages and, most importantly, they get it. With more than 1200 artisans in 15 districts of Nepal, here are just a handful of our success stories.
Indira has a similar story to that of many ACP producers. As a small girl, she was denied an education (unlike her brothers) and was instead forced to assist with household chores. At the age of 17, she moved from her home in Tehrathum in Eastern Nepal to Kathmandu to work as a carpet weaver. Within a year in the city, Indira was married to a Thanka painter, but his work was irregular and proved no return. Their earnings together were barely enough for rent. On the brink of destitution, her husband took out a loan and moved to Malaysia in search of better work. His efforts were unfruitful and anything he earned was used to pay back his loan.
Indira was left penniless and uncertain, with her daughter and two other family members financially dependent on her. Through a fellow weaver, she learned of ACP and soon joined our textile team. Weaving fabrics is much different than weaving carpets, but Indira quickly adapted to the differences and excelled at the craft. She began to earn significant compensation and has taken advantage of our producer benefits. ACP's "Girl Child Education" program has supported her daughter's schooling, and the "Saving Program" has helped her during times when her finances were strained.
Recently, her husband has returned from Malaysia with no intention of going back. He is looking for work in Nepal while Indira continues to receive assistance from ACP's earning and welfare programs. She is getting closer to realizing her dream of giving her daughter a complete education and owning a home in Kathmandu.
At 18, Nara Maya married into a poor family in Eastern Nepal. Unable to cope with the hardship and poverty of her small village, Nara Maya and her husband ventured to Kathmandu in search of a better life. In the city where respectable work for an illiterate woman is nearly nonexistent, she discovered ACP. She joined as a knitter, while her husband found work as a porter. Due to a health problem, Nara Maya was transfered to the painting unit, and then to the ceramics unit. At first, her task was to stamp designs on the pottery, but she developed a fascination with the potters wheel. ACP recognized her potential and so she was chosen for formal training in wheel operation. Today, Nara Maya is self-sufficient, confident, and multi-skilled. All of her children are in school, they receive three square meals a day, and she currently out-earns her husband.
As a young woman, Ram Devi had a strong desire to work to improve her family's economic condition. Her father, struggling with a gambling addiction, mortgaged the family home and took out a loan to start a poultry farm. Unfortunately, whatever income generated from the farm he wagered away, resulting in shame and debt. Even with their hardships, Ram Devi's family banished the concept of her finding a job, calling it "improper" for a woman to work outside of the home. Her financial straps tightened with the addition of her children, adding to her loans and debts.
Dismissing her family's conservative restrictions, Ram Devi joined ACP in 1992. Initially, she made Christmas ornaments and stamped designs on pottery. After one year, ACP offered artisans training on the ceramic wheel. Ram Devi was selected and after the six month training period she mastered the skill - which, in Nepalese society, is deemed a "man's work."
Breaking social stereotypes was not on Ram Devi's agenda when joining ACP, but since her beginnings, she has been financially independent and commands respect within her home and community. With the income she's earned, she purchased her own potters wheel and started working from home in the morning and evenings to supplement her income. The death of her husband left her the sole financial bearer of her children and father-in-law, which she attends to with her earnings from ACP. Memories haunt her of her former life in poverty -- not being able to visit her sick mother because she didn't have the bus fair, sending her children to sleep hungry -- but today, she is working hard to pay off her mortgage and climb out of debt. She is hopeful for her future and the future of her children.