The Box MAker
Updated: May 7, 2021
I wonder if you have ever seen those lovely painted boxes from Kashmir, and wondered about them. Each one is hand painted, the most intricate with single hair brushes! Well, behind every artist is a box maker and today I thought to introduce you to Mohammad Shafi (above right) who says his dream is “to be a good person and to do better for my family and society”. A very fine dream indeed!
Like so many people around the world the Corona pandemic is playing havoc with his dream. He has seen his earnings fall from Rs. 10,000 per month pre-pandemic to
Rs 5,000-7,000 and as India deals with the dreadful destructive second wave, his home town of Srinagar has been locked down reducing business still further.
Mohammad Shafi learned wooden box making from his father who was a carpenter. He cannot stand up to walk because of lower limb wasting as a result of polio but, working from home, he earns for his family of five. His daughter works and his son attends higher secondary school which is of course closed at the present time.
Sajad Ali who is painting in the picture (R) runs a small NGO called Care Kashmir, for artisans with disabilities; he told me that at the present time work is grinding to a standstill for all the crafts people. Political strife in the region has been a disturber of incomes for many years keeping the tourists away and now whatever remnant remained is at the mercy of the corona virus and the necessary restrictions it causes.
One thing I have come to see over the years, working with artisans with disabilities, is that what Mohammad Shafi has to say about work is shared by most of them, he says:
“I spend my earnings on my family; I am satisfied with my life. If there is no work life would be difficult, work is important for all, if there is no work there is no life. It is work which gives me responsibility and respect in my family and society. Your orders help us earn well”
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