Little Flower

Little Flower Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre is right up on the border between India and Nepal in Raxaul, Bihar. Men and women hand spin silk yarn, and then weave it into scarves and throws. They also weave cotton fabric for scarves and shirts and towels. The centre provides vital employment for people who would otherwise find it very difficult to find work because of their association with leprosy.

Little Flower buys eri silk cocoons from small farmers in Assam. Traditionally eri silk worms are extracted from the cocoon so there is no silk work destroyed in the production of this silk. The cocoons are degummed in boiling water and washed and then spun by hand into thread for weaving. Using those hand spun threads to weave fabric creates gorgeous, slubby textured cloth..

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Many of the artisans in Little Flower are family members of people affected by leprosy. Sita Devi is one example. One advantage for the women who work there is that they can mange their home affairs and keep their children nearby if need be, as Sita explains:

She joined the department and was asked to learn spinning of silk from the silk cocoons.

“My father-in-law was furious with me for going to work and locked me out of the house for two days, Brother Christodas found out and convinced my father-in-law to let me work and live at home, but there was too much tension in the house because I had gone against his wishes and eventually the colony elders allocated a separate house for my husband and me and our children.”

“I worked for a while on the colony farm but I could not keep the children with me in the rain and so I returned to the weaving unit. I had to work hard to keep up the number of pieces per day as we were paid piece rate.”

Now Sita is one of the supervisors in the unit responsible for monitoring production. Read more about Sita here.