Photo by Jeff Clark for Apolis Activism
By Shea Parton
With our 493 lbs. of merino cashmere yarn finally delivered to Citta’s sister organization, Tara Oriental, we were glad to be piled into a taxi with Prakash leading us to the factory (Source: Dec. 3, Dec. 2). Crammed against the window, I couldn’t help but notice another Che Guevara sticker. As Nepal transitioned from monarchy to the world’s youngest republic it is classic to see Che Guevara become a hero to the working class (Source: Dec. 6). As we pulled up to Luvu Ward Number Seven in Lalitpur, only fifteen minutes from our home, we walked up the cement staircase and began meeting the 50 women spread across three floors - dividing 4,000 square feet of working space. The factory proprietor, Anin Rajbhandari, shared his background of managing the local five star hotel, Soaltee Crowne Plaza, that we tamed during our monsoon weddings (Source: Dec. 3, Dec. 13). Anin shared his vision for opening in 1995 and employing women with a similar philosophy to Muhammad Yunus’ in Banker to the Poor, a must read. Women’s default character in third world survival is a combination of selfless discipline, while men typically lean towards alcohol and gambling. Anin’s hours of operation are tailored for women to earn a livelihood while their children are studying, 9am-5pm. Employing women creates a unique social change by empowering them to be leaders in a male dominated society.
I couldn’t hide my smile as all the hard work came together, measuring and fitting the first top of production sample. The craftsmanship and reassuring attention to detail reminded me that regardless of the longitude and latitude, artisans take pride in their work. With a couple corrections for an additional sample to be ready by day’s end, we burnt time over lunch and finally sat down with Prakash Bhurtel, Nepalese manager of the Citta women’s center, for an interview explaining the complete process of the Transit Elite Sweater. Then final corrections were approved over video chat once the 13 hour time difference registered a courteous brotherly wake up call. My brother Raan, Apolis's Creative Director, is the final word on everything we design. Thankfully, the final sample of the sweater asked for minor corrections to meet his, ahem, high standard for excellence, love you Raaner. Tomorrow we are cutting it close as we finalize the top of production sample on our last full December day in the Himalayas.