Carving Social Change

Bringing healthcare to India’s woodcarvers

Fair Trade wholesaler, Matr Boomie, has been working with artisans in India for a decade to bring Fair Trade goods to consumers around the world and reinvest in their partner communities. One large artisan network they partner with produces hand-carved wooden products from sculptures, to decorative boxes. The network is comprised of three communities in North Central India with upwards of 500 artisans. Most of these woodcraft artisans work from their homes or small workshops in their communities. A demand for their products is unequivocally positive, but there are many other challenges they face in their day-to-day lives.

For most of us, access to eye care and health awareness resources are commonplace, but for many woodcraft artisans in India, this hasn’t always been the case. Poor eyesight is hardly ideal for a job requiring manual dexterity, minute detail work, and focus. Imagine for a moment that you’re carving an intricate pattern into robust, heavy rosewood. Now imagine doing this with blurred vision. It is not an easy task.

The challenges that under-resourced artisan communities face are difficult and numerous. The rural population of India is at a severe disadvantage when it comes to healthcare and education access. The National Rural Health System has found that 66% of the rural population lacks access to preventative medicine. To make matters worse, the United Nations found that 75% of the health infrastructure in India is concentrated in Urban areas, leaving the rural population at a disadvantage. These sobering stats, coupled with caste and gender discrimination, affect millions in India. Will we be able to solve these problems? Probably not, but together - we can continue to address these issues and make a positive impact one person at a time.

In a continued effort to raise awareness and offer these resources, Matr Boomie’s Indian arm of operations organized a free health and eye checkup camp in March 2015 for their woodcraft artisan partners. Their craft involves a lot of physical labor and keen attention to detail; so routine health and vision checkups are a necessity.

Much was accomplished at the 2015 health camp, and there are plans to expand upon these services in the future. On this occasion, a team of qualified doctors provided the following services and guidance:

  • Preventive health check-ups for general illness and risk factors
  • Free medicine distribution for common cold, fever, and STIs for 355 artisans
  • Free eye exams and distribution of eyeglasses for 260 artisans
  • Information and literature on general health, respiratory care, and hygiene

The health camps are positive programs, but there is still much to be done. Matr Boomie believes Fair Trade doesn’t end at a fair wage. They work hand in hand with their artisan partners in India to ensure that they’re afforded the services they need to become sustainable communities. They don’t stop at these health camps. Empowering communities with computer centers, women’s literacy workshops, skills training, and scholarships are just some of the ways they try and make a change. The future is bright—Matr Boomie is excited to explore more ways that they can strengthen our bonds, build trust, and make an impact.

Matr Boomie is a wholesale fair trade collection from India that marries modern design sensibility with inspiring traditional art forms, bringing people and cultures closer together.

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