Threads of Yunnan
Threads of Yunnan is a thriving economic outreach which is impacting the social, intellectual, physical and spiritual well-being of women in the province of Yunnan , China . The women are able to use their skills in indigenous handiwork to make beautiful embroidered decorations, accessories and homewares. By applying Fair Trade principles Threads of Yunnan is providing its workers with an opportunity to break out of the poverty cycle which grips the Yunnan mountain villages.
Wan Ping Fen Wan Ping Fen is in her mid-forties. She is married and has two children. She and her husband work very hard to pay for their children's education. Besides working in the fields they have a little shop where the villagers can buy soap and other small items for daily use. The shop was started as a result of the handicraft project. One of the topics for a training session was how people in the village could earn money doing different things, and how they could use the money they earned from selling their embroideries to fund money-making projects.
Wan Ping Fen is a hard worker. She has become the leader in the handicraft project in her village and also organizes the pick up of handicrafts from the other villages. Besides her own work she puts a lot of time into helping the project and the women in her village.
One of Wan Ping Fen's biggest desires was to get a sofa so she can have something nice to sit on when she gets back from the fields in the evenings. She has saved money from her handicraft sales and now has her sofa. When she joined the project she did not know how to read, write or do arithmetic. When she wrote her name the first time she had tears in her eyes. Now she is able to read all the names of the women in the project.
When asked to describe a typical day Wan Ping Fen said, "I am very busy everyday. I cook and work in the field every day. Every morning I work on my handicraft things. After dinner I go to night school. I like to write and to sing very much."
"The embroidery awakened my enthusiasm for life. Before, I felt that my life was so boring. Now, I like to do everything. I like to tend sheep, pick up firewood and do embroidery everyday." Li Ru Fen
"Before making the handicrafts, it was very difficult for me to endure living my life. After doing embroidery, my life has had a great change. I am not afraid of the water and electric bills or the children's tuition. I can use the income from handicrafts to pay for our living expenses. Moreover, I saved the income from raising pigs to build new a house." Ma Shi Ying
"Before, I could not read Chinese characters, but because Danyun company came to Jigaizi and set up the embroidery project, I now know many characters. Now I have learned how to create my own future. Danyun encourages me to continually progress and spurs me on." Zhang Zheng Mei
"I have seen a lot of changes. Before I began doing embroidery with the project, I had to do housework the whole day, and sometimes go out to pick up firewood. Now I can stay at home doing embroidery and have an escape from monotonous housework. When my child comes in to tell me that it is the time for the meal, he always says: "Oh! You look so comfortable!" Ma Xiao Fang
"Before, I didn't like to communicate with other people. Since I became a part of the embroidery team, I have changed my opinion. Our sisters in Danyun Company are not disgusted with us because of our poverty. On the contrary, they help us and care for us. Before I took part in the embroidery project, I had a sense of inferiority,but now my self-confidance is built up. I will speak if I want to speak. I will sing if I want to sing." Li Lan Fen
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Contact: Yao Shun
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