On the first day of the design workshops I loved watching the artisans file into the office one-by-one & joyously embrace each other. Most of them have small children and choose to work from home, so they don't see each other regularly. They greeted each other with huge smiles and warm hugs. Their children instantly resumed old friendships and ran around giggling and playing hide & seek. The reunion was as happy as any I'd ever seen.
On the second day I noticed that Seema, who had brought both her son & daughter the day before, had come to the workshops alone. I figured that her children must have stayed at home with their father and I didn't think twice about it.
After a long morning we took a break for chai. The artisans sat together on the rooftop laughing and catching up until they were interrupted by Seema'a children, who ran toward them with huge smiles. This time they had on matching school uniforms and larger-than-life backpacks. Of course, I thought, they were at school.
Seema is not alone. In fact, 100% of the artisan's children are currently enrolled in school. This is not a coincidence - it's an accomplishment that can't be undermined.
Over 40% of Anchal artisans didn't go to school themselves and can't read or write today. Of the 55% that did attend school, 65% dropped out before grade 7 and only 1% completed high school. Before Anchal, chances were that their children would follow the same pattern just as they had followed their own parents.
Anchal artisans are refusing to let that happen. They are determined to give their children the opportunities that they were deprived of, and so they are making education a priority. By investing in education, Anchal artisans are systematically ending the once inevitable cycle of intergenerational prostitution. They are putting an end to the stigma and entrenched poverty that their families have faced for centuries. It's a big deal.
It is said that when you educate a woman, you educate her family. Our statistics are proof. We couldn't be more proud.