This Christmas, we are supporting the weavers of Varanasi. India is the second largest producer of silk in the world, and the textile industry is the second largest employer in the country.
Varanasi is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and has been a cultural centre in India for thousands of years. Up until about a decade ago, the city had over 100,000 looms. Now there are just 35,000.
The once-thriving weaving community have produced beautiful, painstakingly made fabric for generations. But the age-old tradition of passing down skills from family to family is threatened by cheap imports, mechanisation, and lack of marketing skills.
Poverty is rife, meaning that young people leave their homes to look for work in bigger cities, and families are torn apart. Weavers face huge debts, forced to borrow capital from loan sharks to buy threads. Some have even been driven to take their own lives.
But by bringing weavers together to form societies, Traidcraft Exchange is bringing new hope to families in the region. Working together gives weavers like Nadir more power – to negotiate better prices, buy threads in bulk, and access the capital and training they need to invest in brighter futures for their families.
This Christmas, you can help bring the weavers of Varanasi together so they can embrace a future free from poverty.