Lata Kachhawan of Barmer, India was a special guest at BGI on May 21st during a 10-day artisan tour sponsored by Handmade Expressions and Fair Trade Towns USA. Lata Kachhawan is a social activist with a passion for improving health, economy, education, drought relief and governance within her home region of Barmer, India. Lata ji leads SURE, the Society to Uplift Rural Economy, which supports over 600 handicraft and artisan producers to sell in a fairer market, most of which are female. Lata ji works closely with Handmade Expressions, who partners with artisans to achieve sustainable development by supporting projects that improve education, health care, water, and energy resources in their community.
The artisans are distributed over the region in various desert villages. Women from distant villages come once a week to the cooperative office, submit their products and collect more raw materials to work on in their homes. Profits from this art help the overall development of the group; this region now has medical centers providing basic health services, solar electricity, evening schools for kids and vocational colleges for women.