Who made my scarf?
"Namaste", a welcome from a smiling group of women in the small production hall in Kathmandu.
The women sit in a circle by their spinning wheels. With Anupama, I walk through the whole scarf production. Anupama is our contact person for the whole production, she is a very strong business lady and a good friend at the same time.
Newly arrived raw materials pile up in various cardboard boxes. Cashmere, wool and linen yarns arrive in big bales. I watch Bim as he mixes a new colour and tests the right colour composition again and again with a few threads. If he is satisfied with his result, the yarns are dyed in a large pot. The women dip the yarns into the kettle in pairs, taking enough time to ensure that the yarns are dyed uniformly. "The colors are AZO-free," Anupama explains. The yarns dry in the sun for some time before being spun onto small bobbins. Then the yarns are stretched on the warp beam - up to 1800 yarns next to each other. The drum with the clamped threads is removed and the women clamp it into the loom with great care. I watch how an experienced weaver shows a young woman the work and explains to her what has to be taken care of so that no faults occur during weaving afterwards. Over a period of several days, the weavers then produce around ten scarves from one warp thread tree. Everything here is still done by hand and without using electricity. The women often sing along or tell each other stories. When the scarves are finished, they are removed from the loom and checked for any flaws.
Scarves with a print are taken by the weavers to the screen printing department. There, each scarf is individually stretched and carefully printed with a silk-screen frame. The prints are designed by Nadine Sakotic and Salome Bally in Switzerland - our three designers create wonderful patterns, some of them drawn by hand. After printing, each scarf is individually checked for flaws in the quality control department. Small unevennesses and torn threads are patched and then the ends of the scarf are finished with knots or fringes. Each scarf is kneaded by hand for a few minutes to make them particularly soft. Afterwards they are ironed, our label is sewn in and the scarves are packed and sent to us in Switzerland.
I thank Anupama for the guided tour. The women are just sitting in the sun in the afternoon break. Most of them come from difficult backgrounds and have experienced violence and abuse. In the women's shelter of the organization they have regained the will to live and strength and most of them start to work in the scarf production. Here they get a good education, fair working hours and wages and it feels like one big family. The women alternate their work and pick up their children from school after work. Festivals are celebrated together and everyone is a bit proud to be independent and self-reliant. That's why we work with them here, for the Women Empowerment and for all the social projects of the women's organisation, which are supported with every scarf sold: Women's and children's shelters, microcredits, further education for women in the villages, psychological and legal assistance, a non-violent school and missions in the event of disasters on the ground.