Lotus Flower Photo Frame The Product Handmade Paper: Handmade paper from Bangladesh, India and Nepal is resourcefully created using plants and natural fibres that are plentiful and environmentally sustainable. Jute, water hyacinth, silk, cotton, bark from the Nepali lokta shrub and pineapple leaves, for example, are commonly used to create paper products. These raw materials, usually purchased locally, are chopped into small pieces with a hatchet and then ground by a large, foot-driven pestle traditionally used for hulling rice. This mixture is then boiled into a pulp that is floated in a large tub of water. The women who make the paper lower hand-held screens into the tub, lifting them once an even, thin sheet of paper has formed. Rag fibres, stems, or flower petals are often added to provide texture. Notably, most sheets of paper are bleached using environmentally safe compounds; others are dyed with "AZO-free" dyes (which bind only to the pulp fibres and not the waste water) in order to create beautiful, solidlycoloured paper. After a large pressing machine squeezes out the excess water, the paper sheet is then transferred to a steel plate, dried in the hot sun and carefully peeled off. From there it goes to the cutting room where it is “calendared” to make it smooth and then cut to specific dimensions. This elaborate process allows artisans to make a wonderful diversity of gorgeous handmade paper products such as note cards, wrapping paper, journals, lamp shades, and picture frames – all of which are acid free. Batik: Batik is a centuries-old technique that uses wax to resist dyes, practiced in many countries to create unique textiles and artistic pieces. To begin the artistic process of batiking, original designs are traced by hand on the material and then hand-painted using brushes or droppers. Next, hot wax is applied to areas where colour is not desired; the material is then immersed into the dye and the hot wax removed. This process of waxing and dyeing is repeated as many times as is necessary to produced a beautiful, multi-coloured design or picture. Each colour on the item represents a separate dyeing and waxing process. Although batik was traditionally used to decorate cotton fabric, the technique has been adapted for use on wood carvings and paper to enable artisans to produce elaborately decorated pieces of art. Frame your favourite photo in flowers and see your memories blossom! Paper handmade using recycled scrap from local mills. Travel the world with each visit to Ten Thousand Villages. Learn how Fair Trade really makes a difference. Our goal is to provide vital, fair income to artisans by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America. Ten Thousand Villages sells product from more than 30 countries, providing work for nearly 60,000 people around the world. The Artisan Group: Prokritee In 2003, the handicraft and export arm of Mennonite Central Committee Bangladesh officially became a registered company called Prokritee, passing leadership to the Bangladeshi people in the process. Prokritee oversees nine job creation programs. The programs focus on generating income for the poorest people, mostly rural women, who are heads of households. The current criteria for employment are: (a) The artisan or her family cannot own more than 1/2 acre of land. (b) The family must earn less than 1000 takas (US$25) a month. (c) The artisan must otherwise be unemployed. Meet An Artisan: Sanjita Halder “Without this job I could not live,” says Sanjita Halder. She is building a brighter future for herself and her daughter, one paper star at a time. Cutting and assembling cards and stars from handmade paper in Jobarpar’s Bangladesh workshop, Sanjita has gained newfound dignity. Her life has been difficult, but at Jobarpar she has discovered cause for hope and a sense of empowerment. Married at a young age, Sanjita and her husband struggled with poverty after their small store closed. Their prospects brightened when her husband found agricultural employment and she gave birth to a daughter named Ashima. In 2005, Sanjita was widowed and left with inadequate income to raise Ashima when her husband fell from a tree. Her problems were compounded by the discovery that she had inherited a series of loans taken out by her husband to support the family. Faced with these bleak realities, Sanjita turned to Jobarpar for help. Now that she is reliably employed she is repaying her debts, and hopes in the future to buy back the land she once owned. More significantly, she is able to send Ashima to school. “My daughter is everything to me,” she says. Sanjita enjoys working with the positive group of women at Jobarpar, and loves knowing that her work has value. Jobarpar is a workshop employing 45 artisans who work primarily with paper, fibre and rope. The organization began as an arm of Prokritee, a co-operative dedicated to job creation and income generation for the poorest people, most of whom are rural women. Originally founded by MCC, the leadership is now entirely Bangladeshi. The Country: Bangladesh Bangladesh is a lush country with rich history and culture. Situated in The Ganges Delta, much of Bangladesh is densely vegetated and highly fertile. Only in the far southeast and northeast of the country do hills rise above the plain. Although Bangladesh has made significant strides in improving the lives of its people since gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971, it still remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with nearly half of its 153 million people living below the poverty line. Challenges are magnified by a population density of roughly 1000 people per square kilometre – one of the highest globally. Despite this, Bangladesh has managed - within the past decade - to reduce infant mortality by half, achieve 100 percent primary school enrolment rates and increase adult literacy rates by 8 and 6 percent for women and men, respectively. Reducing population growth, achieving near self-sufficiency in food production and attaining gender parity in school enrollment rates are other notable accomplishments of recent years. The agriculture sector is the single largest contributor to income and employment generation and a vital element in Bangladesh’s challenge to reduce rural poverty and foster sustainable economic development. Nearly two-thirds of the population is employed in the agriculture sector, with land mainly devoted to rice and jute cultivation. Unfortunately, heavy rainfalls accompanying the monsoon season, combined with the impacts of deforestation and erosion, mean that Bangladesh’s agricultural economy is vulnerable to both flood and drought conditions. Finding alternative sources of employment will continue to be a challenge for Bangladesh, particularly with the increasing numbers of landless peasants who already account for about half of the rural labor force. Handicraft production provides an important source of supplemental income, especially for women.
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