Have you ever wondered what is the story behind the garments you buy? 


The last day of our stay in Kolkata, Anup took us to see the silk painting workshop. We jumped on train and left off at Champahati, a village one station away from Piali. Five minutes walking, over and across the railway, we turned right and reached the atelier. The ladies were working on a shipment of silk scarfs ordered from Austria.

I thought we’ll just buy a few scarfs and left, but that atelier held a story… 

“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” ~ Kofi Anan

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In 1978 five ladies started Sundarban Khadi & Village Society (SKVIS), an organisation to overcome the socio-economic problems and the rural poverty through women development activities. Its mission was and still is to support empowerment of marginalised women through training, education, work and production.

Today SKVIS is a member of International Fair Trade Association (WFTO). Its focus remains on the traditional Indian textile industries such as weaving, batik, blockprint, screenprint, dying… and women’s rights.

Sushama, the lady on the photo above, is one of those five founders. Throughtout our visit, she was applying a wax design on the fabric which was later dyed into one of the plant-made textile colours made by one of the SKVIS production units.

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Shephali, far right, yellow sari, on the photo below, is the vice president of SKVIS.

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To empower | make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.

Photos and text Polona Fonda