Artisan Stories

As Narrated By Leemon Ravi

Overview

WAYANAD - The name has it all. The mystic beauty of forest, foggy mountain ranges, winding roads, meet with wild, adventure treks etc. But the tribal artisans in this heaven are leading a fire and brim stone life. It's a place near to heaven, but unlike heaven the tribal artisans are not accoutred with angelic powers. Otherwise they should have bartered their beautiful artifacts for keeping their grieving families happy. Their brilliance in craft work is astounding. But they are struggling with poverty and hunger. I was on a one day visit for our CSR initiative called UTHHAN ( Website- uthhan.gergstore.com ) to enroll struggling tribal artisan families at Wayanad, supported by Artisan Development Organisation ( ADO, an organization for hereditary artisans), headed by my father Mr. Thamarakulam Ravi. Two good Samaritans named Mr. Rajappan and Mr. Poulose were the coordinators to show these tribal artisan families.

Raju PK & Gopalan family

Start with a small service

The roads were narrow with alluring coffee plantations on either side. The place was Trikkaipetta. It is a paradise with greenery all around with the true smell of soil. The artisans of Trikkaipetta create marvels out of bamboo from generations. These can be used as show case items, key chains, flower vases and so on. Raju PK and Gopalan headed the crafts production
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Biju & family

Start with a small service

Biju’s family at Mundad is in dire straits. Biju is deaf and dumb. The will power of this person is amazing. We can’t even think straight under pressure. But he is not only fighting out his life, but also created these models out of coconut shells. The tools used are very simple. We sat on a bench which can break at any time.

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Pushpavally & Group

Start with a small service

The next stop was Mullankolli. A woman, who heads a self-Help unit, which makes artifacts out of grass welcomed us. A group of women suddenly assembled with their products made of grass. The products were flawless. It can only be made after hours of hard work, precision and concentration. These crafts can be used as fruit baskets, hats, flower vases etc .

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Raju MC & family

Start with a small service

Raju MC makes show crafts out of bamboo. The problem is same; there is no money to complete the polishing. He is doing daily labour to feed his family. When I have explained about our initiative there was a tint of hope for him. His wife and children were looking at us without any emotions.

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No handicraft products can be created without stabilizing these families. It’s a pity that the purpose of forming an artisan organization is only to cheer personal benefits and photo ops. Most of the organization leaders are not even craft workers. They can mass-produce only verbal jugglery, not a single handicraft product. The Government is busy accumulating tax from the public to feed their administrators. Social media pages don’t have space for artisans, since they are busy sharing unwanted communal jibes and celebrity sex scandals. Media is behind TRP and artisans are unable to build up TRPs, except handicraft products. The artisan families  go for forced labour work to sustain, even though the demand of handicraft products are huge in global market. Their children hate this profession because this valuable skill can fetch only poverty and hunger.

UTHHAN is currently feeding 2000+ artisan families like Gopalan, Raju and Biju by molding self-sufficient artisan groups. You can’t find us in main stream media, since we work only for uplifting artisan families without any political motive. We buy raw materials and tools for these families from your contributions. We want you to buy their products from UTHHAN store, which will support these families for a better living. The product prices are reasonable, because of  zero middle men involvement. Let the Government, Politicians and Artisan leaders sleep, we will wake up to lift up our artisans, who are the ambassadors of Indian Culture... The drizzle of rain on our return may be the tears of pain and helplessness of many tribal families. But we believe that the downpour will end up in to sunshine. Because many of us have a kind heart too…..

UTHHAN- Empowering artisans is the first initiative in India, where the profit from artifact sales goes directly to artisans without any middle men.