The work of St. Mary's Mahila Shikshan Kendra reflects more than 50 years of commitment to working with poor families in the city of Ahmedabad in western India. Many of the families are landless laborers from rural areas who have come to the city in search of a better life.
St. Mary's was started by Dominican nuns in 1954, who arrived in Ahmedabad, an industrial city of textile mills, to start a hospital. When the mills closed in the 1980s, many men lost their jobs and women became the sole source of support for their families. Concerned with the economic as well as the physical well-being of the women, the nuns organized a sewing and embroidery center where women use traditional skills, including beautiful mirror work embroidery, to create works of art.
Profits from sales are distributed to the artisans and controlled by a managing committee of the women. The 450 women artisans receive benefits in the form of a savings plan, school scholarships for their children, and technical courses to upgrade their skills. We have been working with St. Mary's for over 20 years, offering their unique and beautiful embroidery and supporting the livelihood of the women who make it.