An ongoing series chronicling the words and wisdom of our artisan entrepreneurs.
Among the verdant hills and lush rice paddies of rural South India, poverty and lack of opportunity make life a struggle for many. Founded in 2008, ROPE INTERNATIONAL is a social enterprise that aims to transform the lives of women artisans through providing steady employment within a safe work environment. Currently, almost 1,000 local women work in a unique rural design studio that has produced more than a thousand original designs for handcrafted home décor and lifestyle products. ROPE’s eco-friendly and sustainable products are made from renewable natural plant fibers including banana, palm, jute, cane, bamboo, sisal, rivergrass and coconut fiber.
ROPE has improved the lives of many rural families by providing training and reliable employment to rural women who can now contribute to their household incomes. Ensuring fair labor standards, comfortable work environments and safe working conditions are all part of their mission. In addition, benefits such as access to medical care and educational scholarships for employee’s children are also offered.
“My name is Anjana Pappathi and I have been working for ROPE for three years now. Before I got this job I worked for a daily wage at a factory that made match boxes. It was 25 miles away from my home so the daily travel was very difficult and the work itself took a toll on my health. I feel lucky to have got a job at ROPE where I earn a fixed monthly salary and have good job security. It is much closer to my home also.
When I first started here they provided very good training in making all types of craft products by hand. I especially like to make baskets but I enjoy working on many different items. Learning to do my work well has created a feeling of confidence in me.
I am still living at home with my mother who is a widow. My sister is married and it is important to me to take care of my mother in her old age. My job at ROPE allows me to do this. Even if I get married, I want to be sure that my husband will agree that I continue to take care of my mother well. Without ROPE this would not be possible.”
Mela Artisans provides handcrafted festive lifestyle home decor rooted in the Indian tradition and fused with modern designs with a mission to preserve the age-old art forms through fair trade practices that enhance the livelihoods of the artisans.