Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS) from Nepal

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Artisan Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS)

Born into a poor farming family in a remote village in Kathmandu district of Nepal, Timila Maharjan had an arranged marriage at age 20 to a widower, Gopal, who had a son. One year after they married, she and her husband celebrated the birth of their daughter, but the following year her husband and daughter died after a road accident. Timila was left to support her stepson and herself.

Luckily in 2005, she joined the Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS), a fair-trade organization, to learn more hand-knitting techniques. Established in 1983 by a former State Council Member, KTS was originally intended to assist the local Pode community of street-sweepers, an "untouchables" caste with few opportunities. It's grown into an educational and vocational training center for low-income families throughout Nepal who develop skills in carpet-weaving, knitting, jewelry-making, or carpentry. In addition to the schools, it also provides childcare for workers, adult literacy classes, a nutrition and health clinic, and an orphanage.

Timila spent years producing high-quality, intricate items and eventually she became a group leader for knitwear. Her work with KTS has not only helped maintain her family's life and health, it has also enabled her to support others by providing job opportunities for women in her village. She feels very proud and excited that products she makes are sold all over the world.

Sadly, in the tragic May 2015 earthquakes, KTS lost one of their artisans who was on Timila's knitting team. KTS is scrambling to help its workers and neighbors rebuild homes that were toppled or made uninhabitable by structural damage. The free nursery school and primary school KTS sponsors for 250 children re-opened a month after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Purchasing their handmade products is one of the best ways to offer support for their community's continued success and recovery from the devastation.

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