The workshop fosters meaningful human connection and a shared purpose. One tailor, who does not have a disability and had no previous connection to disability prior to this work, described his most significant “day-to-day achievement” as “mingling with different backgrounds of people.” He lives with his wife and kids, but at the workshop, “everyone is different, and that has also helped him relate to different groups of people.” Similarly, the current cloth-maker shared that “in the workshop, everyone has their role to play, so when [we] come to work, we have to concentrate on whatever [we] are assigned to do.
Workers take pride in the unique tie-dye products they make and talk about them with friends and community members. As one seamstress explained, “anything we do, I take a picture and show it to friends, and most of them doubt that I made [the product]. They ask, ‘how did you do this?’ Even one person said he wants to come and learn how.” The other seamstress agreed, saying “I am very proud when I am with the peers that I completed my apprenticeship with. I have improved so much compared to them.” The graduated cloth-maker also mentioned frequently sharing her work with the community, remarking that “she always advertises the company…and gives directions to this place.”
The manager and several of the workers find purpose in sharing their knowledge and expertise with community members in-need. One of the knitters shared her experiences with attempting to train her family members and other persons with disabilities in how to do the knitting techniques she had learned. She said, “For me, I’ve taught a few people how to do the mittens in the Ga Central district… I also hope that I personally can mobilize more persons with disabilities and impact them with the idea of making mittens and hats.” The manager conveyed her desire to give back to the community as a social responsibility rather than an act of volunteerism, explaining, “When you live in a community and you are doing something, you have to let people know what you are doing… so that they can come in and see what we do and also benefit in some way.”
The pursuit of self-reliance is a source of purpose and meaning for workers, and some view being self-reliant as a social impact because it reduces their dependence on others. When asked about her impact in the community, our seamstress with a physical disability explained simply that her impact was “getting work for myself; my impact is that I am supporting my own livelihood.”