Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Finally some handmade

6th August 2010

We had to leave our lovely chalets today feeling slightly worse for wear after our little party last night. But my spirits were lifted at the prospect of seeing more handweaving and handcraft.

First stop was Selyn Handlooms, a World Fair Trade Organisation accredited group. We started at their dying plant in the middle of what seeming like jungle. It was made all the more steamy by the wood powered boiler. The owner did not seem particularly sure of his environmental practices with regard to dyeing, he did however assure us that the dyes come from Germany - a good thing I suppose?

Next we went to their handloom workroom, it was great to be back in such familiar territory. I finally had the chance to weave, the women were very impressed with my prowess and insisted that I must have done it before - it must be the rythem getting stuck in my head. I became slightly obsessed, but luckily the girls were able to leave me and visit the showroom next door and get a shopping fix while I got very sweaty in the warm room with no fan. I was able to interview the woman that helped me. Her name is Chandra Rathanyake and is 56 years old. She has been working at Selyn for 15 years, before she was a house wife. I found it quite worrisome when I asked how much she spent on food she said that she would not be able to afford to live off her wage if her children did not give her food that they had grown. So after she has paid for expenses, she is unable to save any money. I was unable to quiz the owner about this as he had left the office by this stage.

Suitably laden after our shop, we set off to Ena De Silva, a womens co-operative group in the hills surrounding Kandy. With this idyllic backdrop the women work on traditional handmade batik and not so traditional embroidery. It is a brilliant set up with a lot of trust. Instead of being paid a piece rate they are paid a monthly wage as some of the women have been working their for 47 years.

From Ena De Silva we went to Kandy. The second largest city in Sri Lanka in terms of commerce. It is really lovely, it goes at an even more chilled pace than Colombo. We went for dinner at 'The Pub' where we had a beer and could have watched the cricket if we really wanted to.

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