It was a delight to visit the leather workshops operated by Nepal Leprosy Trust (NLT) yesterday. They employ former leprosy patients and their families to make stunning leather products, including bags, wallets, washbags and purses. Not only were the goods beautiful to look at, but you’ll have to take my word that they smelled incredible as well.
Over the years, WWR has worked with NLT to house and assist some former leprosy patients and their families.
Nepal is a Hindu country, and the cow is sacred. Consequently, leather-making has traditionally been taboo; only low caste and Dalits (untouchables) were permitted to participate. Eileen Lodge set up NLT and had the God-inspired idea to employ leprosy afflicted people to make leatherware. Since these people were already ostracised, it made little difference if they began working with cowhides. The business took off, and NLT cornered the market in leatherware since no one else would produce it.
Nowadays, there is much more competition, and their leather business is in decline. However, NLT still makes products for export. The Leprosy Mission stocks them, and you can buy NLT’s products here:
Australia: Leprosy Mission Shop