Laxmi first learned to make kantha blankets when she was 15. While still living in the village, before moving to Kolkata, Laxmi’s grandmother taught her this traditional handwork. Since that time she has always used it as a source of income for her and her family. Others would bring saris (old and new) along with thread to Laxmi and she would stitch them into beautiful blankets.
With Laxmi’s longstanding trade of Kantha making, it is no surprise that she became the first woman to sew blankets for ConneXions. She enjoys making these masterpieces and continues to make them not only for ConneXions but also for gifts to give friends and families at significant events. She prefers making blankets to being a maid-servant which she sees as one of her few other options. She is happy to get to spend her days at home and running her own house as opposed to being out at someone else’s house.
Laxmi lives like many others in the slums of Kolkata. Her small house is filled with an ever-expanding family. She lives with her husband, two sons and their wives along with her daughter and recently her 18-year-old nephew came to join the family. Very soon Laxmi will also become a grandmother for the first time.
The money Laxmi receives from her beautiful creations goes to contribute to the household needs such as rent and food. She also enjoys having the ability to buy her family members gifts from time to time. She is thankful that with the help of her steady income she is always able to pay off loans she may need to take out for big expenses such as the upcoming family celebration.
Laxmi used to make 10 or 12 blankets a month but has been sick for the past few months and unfortunately the number of blankets she is able to produce has decreased. Witnessing this reminded me of how vulnerable families like Laxmi’s are.
Laxmi only went to school through class 4 but her grandmother taught her an invaluable skill that has kept her filled with a sense of freedom.
Laxmi’s daughter-in-law helped with the translating during my interview with Laxmi. She has also worked for ConneXions and continually praised ConneXions for the gift of freedom and confidence that as a family they will endure any hardships that come their way.
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