There’s a saying that mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Some of the highest altitude oaks in the world grow in Nepal, which is where Danusha began in 2008.
I remember the first time I stepped into the workshop at Lalgadh Leprosy Services centre. It was an incredibly moving experience as I watched women whose fingers had been lost to nerve damage manipulate stones and thread to make objects of beauty.
As well as training in jewellery making we provide adult literacy lessons, decent wages, good food, basic health and hygiene education and we’ve sponsored compost toilets too - very important in the fight against pollution of drinking water. Childhood diarrhoea is one of the main causes of death in children under the age of 5, simply because people don’t have access to clean water.
I’ve always been concerned about issues like poverty, equality and human rights, and think it’s important for us all to do what we can to make the world a better place for everyone. Along the way I’ve been inspired by ordinary people who work to get the job done. You won’t read about them in books but many of my friends work really hard for the benefit of other people.
My Danusha experience has been life changing for me. I think far more carefully about what I buy and opt for fair trade whenever possible. I spend a fair amount of time in south east Asia and have seen first hand some terrible working conditions.
Take a moment to look around. What can you see? If you’re reading this I guess there’s a computer, phone or tablet not too far away. Imagine all the people involved in making it. It’s impossible to know just how many pairs of hands it’s been through on its journey to your home, but it’s a fair bet there’s been some exploitation along the way. I’m not saying ‘don’t have stuff’, simply that we should all do what we can to redress the balance from time to time, and buying fair trade is a good first step.
At Danusha, highlights have been working direct with the women to develop new designs, and watching them blossom as they gain in confidence. In their society any association with leprosy is a one way ticket to ostracisation so it’s fantastic to see them regaining the respect of their families and being accepted back into their communities. This is what skills training does. It gives people back their dignity and I love it! I also love the light and life and colour of Nepal. Being there is like fire for the soul.
You can find and find a wide range of Danusha pieces of jewellery at both www.facebook.com/ConfusedArt and www.con-fusedarts.co.uk
From Alli of Danusha,