Janadhan Singh is married with a teenage son and daughter. He lives with his wife and family, his mother and his brother and his wife in Khadi Gram Udyog Kusht Seva Ashram (KUKA), a leprosy colony about five hours drive from Delhi. In a phone conversation with MESH Social Worker during the covid19 lockdown he shared that the colony used to have two income generation units, poultry rearing and hand weaving. He was given responsibility to look after the poultry.
“My father asked me to learn about the different stages of weaving too. In this way I got engaged in the dying process and developed skills in dying and preparing warp for the looms. Now the poultry business is closed and we are only running weaving unit. I do all the dying, monitor warps and do quality checking.”
Janadhan is also the contact person with MESH and is often on the phone to MESH Designer discussing designs, fabric widths and more recently using organic cotton.
He said of the coronavirus crisis which has put everyone into lockdown and brought all weaving to an end “We all are surprised with the current situation, never had imagined that we would have to face such a day in our lives. With unity we would be able to overcome this situation.”
“For the colony members through our panchayat fund, we have been able to provide essential supplies to 20 members. We are also receiving some help through people’s generous contribution towards our needs.”
“We all are dependent on handloom weaving. From my family to all the group members this is our only source of income. We are able to sustain 100% of our lives through this handloom work.The future is very uncertain.”
KUKA is part of MESH’s Fair Trade Guarantee scheme and Janadhan said he thinks going fair trade was a good direction which is important for them in KUKA. He commented “All the principles are good for the community, people and nation. Fair trade is a good way to bring improvements in the community. We want to improve the working conditions here as part of our fair trade improvement plan”
MESH buys beautiful hand woven cotton table cloths and tea towels
, napkins and runners from KUKA which are exported around the world. Recently with a gift from Weltpartner EG, a fair trade organisation in Germany, they have converted some of their looms to produce organic cotton fabric for the first time. Janardhan was very positive about the idea of making this change and implemented it immediately.
Janadhan says – “In normal times we have work for 8 – 9 hours a day, we do not have any restrictions as we have now during this lock down. We easily go out any time and enjoy what we like to eat. We go to market any time of the day and whenever we wanted to purchase. Time would fly by during our usual working days. Now, during this lockdown iIt is like prison; somehow, we are spending our days inside our house. We are not supposed to go outside, only from 7 am – 10 am we allowed to go market for our purchases. All of us enjoy working and now we are feeling trapped.”
“To all our fair trade customers around the world we say we are grateful to you for buying our products. We belong to a small community so we are happy that you are buying products made by us We request you all to come ahead and buy products from us to help us recover from this period of lockdown.”