This year Ma Te Sai has embarked on it's second sewing skills program with village artisans. We have 20 trainees from 6 different ethnic groups and villages in the Luang Namtha area, in remote Northern Laos. Why do we train women to sew? It lets us follow our mission; a mission to work with women in remote areas and create finished products in their villages to earn a better living. But what we actually get in return is so much more, let me tell you how much more.
Buddhism and the crafts go hand-in-hand in Luang Prabang. Just walk down the main street and you will see detailed carvings adorn the temple doors, cut glass murals and gold stencils densely fill columns, walls and ceilings. The Buddhist Heritage Project supports and encourages initiatives of the Buddhist community in the fields of education, preservation of its cultural, religious and historical heritage, and on-site environment management. One of their latest endeavour, is a conversion of disused class rooms in Vat Sop, at end of the main street, to train novices in wood carving. Ma Té Sai will support by selling the outcome of their learnings in our store, and work with them on custom orders. We can thank Covid19 in part for this collaboration as the two friends, and directors of each organisation have been unusually sedentary in Luang Prabang and collaborating in product development.
In January I was invited by the British Council to tell the story of Ma Te Sai, at a conference which exposed different Southeast Asian business models to Burmese producers, and shared knowledge of the region. It gave me incredible impetus to keep moving forward, mutually developing with our artisans.