BEHIND THE SEAMS: PEOPLE TREE HAND KNITS MADE IN KATHMANDU
WORDS FROM OUR DIARIES AND TRAVELS
“ Today we visited the Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS) in Kathmandu, Nepal. KTS has been a long time production partner of True Fashion label People Tree. The beautiful hand knitted jumpers and cardigans in the People Tree collections are made by KTS. The son of the founder, MR. Kiran Khadgi and now director of the organization welcomed us in his office and proudly explained us everything about the history of KTS.
KTS was originally set up by his father, a dedicated freedom fighter to help pode people, the so-called ‘untouchable’ caste in Nepal. Those born into the pode caste are expected to clean the sewers and streets of the areas inhabited by higher castes for no more than scraps of leftover food. The discrimination that keeps these people out of other forms of work even affects children, who may drop out of primary school because they are unable to fit in. Until recently, pode children did not go to school at all.
People Tree works with KTS to provide training and design support. Hand knitting not only makes a unique and beautiful product, it also provides women with the opportunity to work. Many of the artisans at KTS are mothers and university students who use their income to finance their – and their children’s – education and living costs. Mr Khadgi explained that KTS wants to create an environment where people feel safe and welcome and take care of each other. Not only with providing jobs and economic benefits but also with important educational programs and things like health insurances for all the people who work at KTS.
Women who want to become a skilled hand knitter are offered a 3 months course by KTS. The women who work in the KTS office can bring their children to the in house daycare centre or when they are older to the school. Some women come and pick up their work at the KTS office and do the hand knitting work at home. In the more rural areas a group leader makes sure the hand knit orders are divided amongst the ladies who work on the ordered hand knit styles from their homes.
In addition to providing good jobs for thousands of people, KTS puts profits from Fair Trade back into community development. KTS supports an orphanage and a school providing an education to over 250 children from low-income families. KTS provides underprivileged women, disabled people and widows with vocational training and job opportunities. KTS provides medical and social support and offers children’s and adult’s literacy classes.
We are incredibly inspired by the work of this Kathmandu based non profit organisation and are proud to be working with them. We already loved the hand knit styles they make for the People Tree collections and now even more so after seeing with our own eyes how much good can be accomplished when organisations look further than economic gain only – especially in a country like Nepal, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. “