Hand-weaving has long been part of Indonesian culture, traditionally most women master the skill. However, losing in competition against “fast fashion", hand-loom art is undervalued. Thus weavers’ lives are dragged below the poverty line & the skill is no longer passed to younger generation. A cultural heritage is dying. More importantly, most village women have no choice but to become illegal migrant workers, despite the risk of fraud, sexual abuse & death.
Toraja Melo uses traditional weaving as an entry point to preserve cultural heritage and to develop women’s resilience. We work with local weavers to upgrade the quality by reintroducing natural yarns and dyes and knowledge of design & fashion trends, while still respecting the customary law.
Toraja Melo helps to develop cooperative, which gives the weavers access to cheaper thread, capital/loan and the market. The weavers are free to sell to Toraja Melo or local market. We then work with urban poor women seamstresses in Jakarta and Bandung to produce fashion, gift and home-ware products. The whole process is documented (book & film) as part of knowledge preservation. We conduct public campaign to revive the pride of this tradition, thus catalyzing the market to flourish again.