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The handicrafts project has its origins at Calcutta Rescue’s first project – the street clinic on Middleton Row. The sewing teacher from Calcutta Rescue’s school was brought in to train former patients how to make clothes. Before long, these former patients were producing clothes for the clinic’s existing patients and earning a wage that helped them to support themselves and their families. This was vital employment for people whose opportunities for work were otherwise severely limited owing to illness.
Over the year volunteers taught children from the Calcutta Rescue School to make small handicraft items like; key rings, bookmarks and cards – that gave the children valuable vocational skills and helped to expand the project. Not only did this generate employment and income for people who would otherwise have found it very difficult to find safe work, it also helped raise funds for Calcutta Rescue’s services.
What began as a peripheral clinic activity has developed today into a vibrant, stand – alone project. The handicrafts project has formal Fair Trade accreditation and its products are sold in India and overseas.
It has a workshop in the Sova Bazaar area of North Kolkata. Staff members are former patients – widows and women who have been deserted by their husbands and students who have dropped out of school. They are learning new skills and are continuously improving on those that they have learned. At the same time, they are earning valuable income for themselves and their families.
The Handicrafts project has 32 trainees, in addition to the 12 regular daily staff. The project produces cards, bags, cushion covers, table linen and many other quality products, and also makes clothes for the patients and students at Calcutta Rescue’s Clinics and schools.
The Handicrafts Project also works closely with our Weaving Project using the cloth that has been spun and woven there.
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