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The Kala Raksha Trust is a grassroots social enterprise that started as a project in 1991 and focused on a group of embroiderers in Sumrasar Sheikh, a village 25 km north of Bhuj. It became a trust in 1993 and now works with nearly 1000 embroidery artisans of seven ethnic communities. Kala Raksha means "art preservation" and the Trust aims to preserve traditional arts of the region by making them culturally and economically viable.
The Trust encourages community members to work together toward the goal of self sufficiency. Generating income through their traditional crafts enables community members to realize their strengths and maintain their identity as they improve their economic well being. Income generation, preventive health care, basic education, and group savings are all part of a comprehensive development program delivered by Kala Raksha. To further the goal of self sufficiency, Kala Raksha embarked on a decentralization of their operations and now has a federation of autonomous producer groups working together as Kala Raksha.
Each Kala Raksha product is a unique work of art. The embroidery patterns are never printed because the artisans work directly on the fabric. The artisans begin with traditional embroidery styles and then are encouraged to innovate within those traditions. Designated artisans from each producer group meet twice a year for workshops, where they study pieces from permanent collections and books. By consciously participating in designing, artisans are empowered by their own creative capabilities.
The artisans know best the amount of work that has gone into different stitches and motifs. Because skills and efforts vary, the artisans themselves price their work. Once a month, a committee of artisans from each producer group sit with the artisans and price each piece that has been made, thus ensuring fair wages.
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