Artisan Update – Leatherworkers of the Artisans Alliance of Jawaja

by - Tuesday, July 20, 2021


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From the Maiwa Foundation

The Maiwa Foundation is dedicated to the long-term goal of making artisans and craftspeople self sufficient. We provide funding to remove obstacles to self sufficiency, and to educate and raise the skills of artisans.

Only one of the groups we work with has required crisis assistance due the challenges wrought by COVID - that is the leatherworkers and weavers of Jawaja. In Canada, when the pandemic first started, the Canadian government offered something called the “Canada Emergency Response Benefit” or CERB as we all call it. The Maiwa Foundation has been able to offer its own form of CERB to the group of Jawaja artisans located in Rajasthan.

With lockdowns and restrictions on international travel, this group could not attend craft fairs. Within India their work is sold through craft alliances and in airport boutiques. The closure of these venues and the decline in demand for their goods due to pandemic related lifestyle changes has meant that there were few orders and little work available for this group. Maiwa stepped in and, for the first time in our history, provided subsistence living expenses to a group of artisans. In the past we have provided assistance to get out from under a predatory lender, capital assistance to construct a facility for the preparation of hides, and our very popular pink bike project - that makes it easier for school girls to get to school.

We are actively looking for ways to turn this situation around. We are optimistic and hopeful that it can be done. We are encouraged by the Jawaja artisans who tell us repeatedly that what they want is work, not charity. They want orders, ideally beyond our regular orders, to fill the gap created by lost work. If they have reliable, consistent  orders they do not require financial assistance.

We are in contact with Indian artisans on a weekly (sometimes a daily) basis. In a normal year we would spend many months in India working side-by-side. The present situation has pushed the day when we can work together a bit further into the future. What the artisans want most is what we all want - for things to return to normal. One way to keep things as normal as possible is to have meaningful work. We are doing everything we can to make this happen.

We and all the Indian artisans thank you for your continued support.



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