Chhoti Si Asha
'Chhoti Si Asha' is a volunteer-driven NGO working with the under privileged of Chandigarh to introduce and develop the skills required to produce a quality range of hand-stitched bags, file folders, lifestyle décor products and more.
Liza Chawley (pictured third on the left) launched Chhoti Si Asha (literally a 'Ray of Hope') in 2006, having returned to India after having spent several years working in the USA.
This small NGO is founded on love, patience and a deep commitment to engaging in programmes that work with the under privileged community to bring about real change.
Initially, Liza would sit with the beggars reading stories and teaching the basics of how to read and write. This developed into the teaching of arts and crafts to encourage a longer attention span for learning and soon evolved into a cottage industry with products to sell.
Nowadays the possibilities are endless, as they are all involved in the creation of new designs and their children are all learning to read and write at school.
The bags produced by this small NGO are made to very high standards and are extremely stylish and modern in colour and design.
‘Door to the Himalayas’ brings you an ever changing selection of bags and accessories, as this small enterprises expands to offer rays of hope, as the name 'Chhoti Si Asha' suggests, to more under-privileged women in Chandigarh.
Meeting the Team
Meeting the team at work in their little workshop is a very fun and uplifting experience, the women brightly dressed and giggling away as they work on their latest designs. They are all encouraged to be creative and to make suggestions for new colour schemes and styles.
In addition to the workplace livelihood program, 'Chhoti Asha' also provides help in availing government schemes in education, vocational training and public food distribution schemes.
Anchal, gentle and kind, was quite embarrassed about modelling her latest creation, but after a while and lots of giggles, she agreed.
Her story is a familiar one. Brought up in the countryside, she came to the town at an early age through marriage and lived in this slum on the edge of town ever since. Now at the age of 25 she is mother to 3 children, the oldest 11 years old. with her husband, she shares two rooms under a corrugated metal roof, one bed and a communal water tap, which boasts water for just 2 hours per day (long enough to collect water for the day ahead and to bathe and wash clothes)
'Chhoti Si Asha' has provided many opportunities for Aanchal and has supported her willingness to encourage her children’s education so they no longer need to go onto the streets to beg. When asked she will tell you that she misses her family and friends in her old village but she is proud of her home with its pretty handmade decorations and is pleased that her children are gaining an education.
Latest update : As a result of the training and skills developed at 'Chhoti Si Asha', Anchal has moved on to work in a large export enterprise and has been able to purchase land in her childhood village and begin building a new home.
The role of 'Door to the Himalayas' is to provide an opportunity for these products to reach a wider market, and so please enjoy visiting our shop pages. If you are interested in wholesale purchase, please contact us directly for further details.