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First field trip to Bangli, the craft village
Bangli, an agricultural town about an hour from Denpasar, is home to a number of men and women who produce handicrafts using natural materials such as bamboo, shells and wood. They operate by selling their work at a below-market price to middlemen, who retains all the profits by on-selling the goods to retailers at the market price. With a lack of training and education, producers become vulnerable to cunning buyers who trick them into selling the goods at a price that is less than the production cost. The producers continue to make a negative profit without even realising it.
I met a young basket weaver in Bangli who told me that she receives 18,700 rupiahs (approximately AUD$2.50) a day for making a dozen intricately hand-woven boxes for her middleman. She knows that each of the boxes were retailing at 50,000 rupiahs each in popular tourists stores but there is nothing that she could do about getting a fair payment for her work and she is not willing to risk losing her middleman by asking for more. With no education and no access to an international market, many craft producers like her suffer in silence. But with an increasing number of grassroot organisations like WKP, the future is beginning to look brighter for the locals.
Our visit to Bangli was of great importance to the producers and we took time to listen to their concerns and offered support. They were very happy with the project and look forward to receiving their first order from abroad. Our next step is to raise funds so that we can commence the training workshops and launch an internet website to reach out to more people for help.
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