Anjum has worked as an artisan with the Ashiana cooperative for nearly a quarter of a century. Married to an artisan who specializes in Aari embroidery (a very fine embroidery done using a special needle), she began when her five children were young and she needed to supplement her husband’s inconsistent income. Anjum’s work was the beginning of significant change for her family, especially because it allowed her to send her children to school. Today, Anjum’s son is working toward a degree in electronics, two of her daughters are still in secondary school, and the other two are married. One of Anjum’s married daughters studied be a nurse and one is currently pursuing a degree in education and a career as a teacher. To continue her education after marriage is a privilege that few women in her community enjoy. Many Muslim women in India are not able to pursue educations at all; that Anjum has ensured educations for her daughters is a significant accomplishment.
Working as an artisan has not simply been a means to financial security for Anjum and her family. “If I had worked anywhere else I would’ve just earned money, but here I get so much more,” she notes. Our programs have helped her strengthen her parenting skills and her relationships with her chidren, and her work as an artisan has increased her self-esteem and independence considerably. “I learned how to value myself. Now I am proud of who I am and I feel I am important too.”