Tucked behind a small Buddhist temple in the Mingaladon township of Yangon is an orphanage funded by Timothy, the brother of Noe Thee, one of WEFTshop's most experienced artisans. Three of the eldest young women at the orphanage are learning how to sew homewares with Lydia (pictured second from left), who is also part of the WEFTshop family.
Lydia lived in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burma border for two years, developing her sewing skills with training from Noe Thee, and learning how to combine traditional techniques with modern design from WEFTshop's creative director Emma Wallace. Lydia has sewn many of WEFTshop's Pang Pah and Zah Len Nak cushions that feature the Chin ethnic group's beautiful hand-woven patterns.
"What a great joy and delight it was to travel to Yangon and meet Noe Thee's brother Timothy who showed me around the orphanage he's been running for the last 20 years, funded by his printing business and taxi," says Emma. "When we wandered through the orphanage's rooms and kitchen to the back, to my amazement and delight there was a sewing room - a giant space with industrial machines and Lydia busy training Ruth, Rachel and Hannah who have grown up in the orphanage and are now in need of work. So exciting … this is what WEFTshop is all about ... young women like Lydia gaining the skills and confidence to train others."