At the heart of KTS are our producers, who create beautiful knitwear, carpets and furniture which capture the essence of Nepal’s artisan heritage in contemporary designs. KTS has over 240 producers, benefiting over 2,500 family and local community members. Although their stories are all unique there is a common thread which runs through them; the social and economic empowerment that opportunities offered by KTS has given them. Here are just a handful of producers for you to meet…
Sapana Chhetri- Carpet Weaver
Sapana was born in Pokali village, Okhaldhunga, north-east Nepal. She moved to Kathmandu with a friend about 12 years ago and found a job in a grocery shop. Working in the shop she met, fell in love with and married Buddhi Kumal. They started living together as husband and wife and after a few months Sapana became pregnant. Sadly just one month before her due date, Buddhi disappeared. Life became extremely difficult for her, at this very delicate period. Fortunately her landlord and some neighbours supported her through her last month of pregnancy. Despite their support she struggled to make ends meet.
Two months after her son, Susan, was born she was finding it increasingly difficult to survive with her newborn child. She came to KTS, with her baby suffering from malnutrition, to ask for help. We gave her a wool winding job and at the same time included her in the carpet weaving training programme to develop her earning potential. In March 2003 she successfully completed her training and is now working as a carpet weaver and wool winder in our production unit.
Thanks to the opportunities KTS offers, Sapana and her son now have a much better quality of life. In addition to the money which she earns, the Founder Chairman of KTS has been providing a subsidy for Sapana’s accommodation and Susan is receiving free education at our primary school.
Timila was born into a poor agricultural family in a remote village called Shankhu, in the Kathmandu district. At the age of 20 her parents arranged her marriage to Gopal Marharrjam, a widower, who lived with his son in Thecho village, Lalitpur. One year after marriage her and her husband celebrated the birth of their daughter. Sadly during their second year of marriage her husband and daughter were involved in a road accident. Tragically, her husband was killed in the accident and a month later her daughter also died. Timila was left to support herself and step son.
In 2005 she heard about KTS and joined the hand knitting training programme, to develop basic knitting skills she’d learnt from friends. After completing the training Timila initially joined our production unit as an individual producer. After several years honing her knitting skills she became confident in producing high quality intricate products and decided to take on the role of group leader. Her work with KTS, a Fair Trade Organisation, has not only helped her to maintain her and her step son’s day to day life but has enabled her to support others by providing job opportunities for women in her village. She feels very proud and excited that products she makes are sold all the way in Europe and Japan.
Sanumaya was born in 1973 in the far east of the countryside in a district called Jhapa. When she was just twelve she fell down a staircase in her house and badly injured her leg. She had several operations but doctors were unable to repair the damage. For further treatment she was admitted to an orthopaedic hospital in Kathmandu.
In 1992 one of the doctors introduced her to Ms. Bridget Crampton, VSO volunteer who was working at KTS, and recommended the training opportunities to Sanumaya. As per Bridget’s advice she joined the wool spinning and hand knitwear course and after graduating joined our team as a wool spinner.
A few years later she was knocked down and injured on the road. She went to the same orthopaedic hospital for treatment, during which she found out about the hospital sponsored tailoring training. She decided to apply to the course to broaden her skills. During the training she met her future husband, Dev Raj Shakya. In 200 she gave birth to her son, Rojan, and started working in a tailoring shop to help support her family. After several years of marriage her husband became ill. At first the doctors were unable to diagnose the symptoms and when his sickness was finally diagnosed he was in the last stages of Hepatitis B, unfortunately he died.
Sanumaya is now solely responsible for supporting herself and son, who is studying at a local private school with a 50% scholarship. She has returned to her job at KTS which provides her and her son with the security they both need.
Jayanti Khadgi – Head of Dyeing Unit
She was educated up to grade 7 in a community school, at which point her parents arranged her marriage to a man from Kathmandu. Unfortunately she was not happy in her marriage and soon left her husband, returning back to her family in Kumbeshwar.
In 1988, she joined the two year carpet weaving training programme. During the training course, she met and fell in love with the weaving instructor, Nima Lama, who she later married. They now have two daughters, Nija and Lija, and a son Nirjan, all of which received free education at our primary school.
In addition to the income Jayanti earns for her family KTS has provided additional financial support. In 1993 she requested her first loan from KTS to purchase land around Kumbeshwar area, which KTS provided interest free. She paid back the loan amount and took out another loan from KTS to construct a one storey house. This loan was also paid back, after which she requested another loan to add floors to her house. Her house is now a four storey building, of which her family is using one floor and the remaining three floors are being rented to generate additional income for her family.
Jayanti is well respected in her family and community and recently competed in a 2nd Constitution Assembly Election representing the ‘Churebhabar Rastria Yakata’ Party. She is a woman who has been socially and economically empowered by Fair Trade.