In the heart of what used to be called the City of Joy is a place of despair. It is a community characterised by poverty and pain, where most have few choices and little hope of change. It houses one of the largest red light districts in the country, where thousands of women are forced into prostitution by poverty and slavery. Some are victims of trafficking, some are victims of circumstance, but all are there because the choice of something better has been taken from them. Many others in this area are part of the 'Dom' community, a very low-caste people considered untouchable by most. They too have limited opportunities and few chances to break free of the crippling poverty that traps them.
Love Calcutta Arts has arisen from the desire to bring freedom to young women who would otherwise be at risk of suffering the abuse that they have grown up amidst. They are instead offered a way to break the cycle and begin anew. As well as offering economic freedom, Love Calcutta endeavours to rebuild their self-worth and dignity.
Our stationery products are the result of generations of traditional skill passed on with care to create quality paper products. The girls at Love Calcutta Arts are trained in book binding, screen printing and embroidery. India has one of the oldest traditions of handmade paper in the world, and we produce beautiful and unique papers from a range of recycled materials. Old cotton rags and paper pulp are mixed with natural fibres such as rice straw, jute, flowers and coloured cotton threads, dyed and cut to give unique mottled effects on every sheet. The women press these into cards and books, decorated with beads and sequins, all locally sourced to support the community economy.
Each of the young women employed at Love Calcutta Arts lives in the community where we work. Training is ongoing, expanding the capacity of our staff to produce high quality products to meet customers' needs. The girls' faces are now shining, because they have hope for a bright future but there are others waiting to join. By purchasing our products you are directly benefitting these young women and the place they call home, as any profits made go directly back into the business, creating more opportunities for other girls to have a brighter future.
Can you help us to make a difference?