Kavre, May 13, 2016:Â Former migrant worker Raju Pariyar (pic above) is one of the lucky ones. During his four-year stint as a tailor in Malaysia, he was never once abused by his employer, he always received his pay on time, and he had decent living conditions.
He earned Rs 50,000 a month and was well treated by his boss who even offered to pay for his airfare back when he decided two years ago to return home to Kosi Dekha, a small farming village in Kavre to set up a jeans workshop.
â€œI spent a large part of my life living away from my family because of work,â€ says Pariyar who is married with two children, â€œopening this workshop was an effort at providing job opportunities to people in my village so they donâ€™t have to move elsewhere.â€
Starting with three sewing machines 18 months ago, Pariyarâ€™s business now employs over ten people, men and women from surrounding villages. They work in a spacious corrugated tin shack that stands out in a village that had more than 90 per cent of its homes reduced to rubble in last yearâ€™s earthquake.
All employees are first trained in use of sewing machines and taught various stitching methods. Depending upon the individualâ€™s ability the training period can last from a week to a month.
Pariyar says his workshop is targeted towards the youth in his village. â€œEven if they donâ€™t want to continue working here, they would have at least learnt a new skill,â€ says the master tailor who worked for 20 years in Kathmandu before moving to Malaysia.
Each employee makes Rs 20 for every pair of jeans stitched which are sold to a supplier in Kathmandu. On average a worker makes 15 pairs of jeans a day, but there are those who can finish up to 25 pairs.
â€œYes, the pay is nominal but when you add up an employee earns close to Rs 400 in a day which is a lot more than what he/she would make working as a farm help, the only other job available in the village,â€ says Pariyar.
Apsara Sunuwar, 20, was one of the first to join Pariyarâ€™s workshop. A high school student Sunuwar says working at the shop has enabled her to pay for her own tuition and also contribute to the familyâ€™s income. The flexible working hours at the workshop has also helped Sunuwar balance her work and school life.
â€œMy classes run from 6 to 10am and after that I come here,â€ says Sunuwar.
Murahari Pariyar, 41, worked in construction before joining the workshop six months ago. His wife Sita Pariyar is also training to be a jeans tailor here. â€œItâ€™s definitely much easier than what I used to do before,â€ says Murahari. His wife agrees.
Pariyarâ€™s workshop produces only childrenâ€™s jeans for now, but he hopes to diversify his products with an increased workforce and better equipment.
â€œThe goal is to have a factory with 30-35 sewing machines and a lot more people working,â€ says Pariyar, â€œthat will not only be a sign of my success but also of the village.â€
The only thing that stuck out in the denim produced here was the â€˜Made in Thailandâ€™ labels attached at the back. When asked, Pariyar admitted sheepishly: â€œThe material is provided by the supplier so I have no say in it but you can be assured they are as good as any jeans made in Bangkok.â€