The Artisans

Meet one of our oldest members, Mrs. Ismail! Mrs Ismail is also our resident zero-waste master, and is extremely resourceful! She surprises us every week with a new creation that she’s turned out with scraps and leftover thread! She is 69 years old, but a millennial at heart – tech-savvy, innovative and passionate about sustainability! I have known Mrs. Ismail for over 15 years and there hasn’t been a single day where she has worn anything other than one of her own crochet saree jackets. She has a daughter with special needs and the mother-daughter duo have been a part of Booteek right from the get-go!

Meet Neela! She is 60 years old and has 2 sons. Her elder son Duminda, has special needs and requires constant support and care. Duminda is also a part of the Booteek team and this mother-son combo is unstoppable! Neela has been with Booteek right from the beginning and is an expert in all the handcrafted work we do. She is filled with so much love and cares for everyone around her – she teaches other women how to do needlework, and is constantly finding ways to make the most beautiful products with whatever we have lying around.

 

 

Meet our delightful Irene. She has been with Booteek from the very beginning and is our quilting wallflower. Irene is a single mum and has a daughter with special needs. Despite any struggle Irene is facing she never, ever, fails to smile. She has been a kind, joyful, and uplifting spirit here at Booteek. We are so lucky to have her!

You’ve just got to meet our Wonder Woman, Upaseeli: Upaseeli is 69 and has been with Booteek from the time of its inception. She has a magic touch when it comes to making our trademark finger puppets and quilts. Her needlework is precise and she has a lovely eye for color. Many challenges have come knocking on her door but when the going gets tough, Upaseeli gets going! She is an inspiration to us all. Remember Nalaka – This is his mum!

Ruzna joined Booteek in 2012 and is now both a needlework expert and our admin specialist! Over the years she’s developed a strong bond with the Booteek ladies and staunchly protects them – she’s their gatekeeper and warrior. There is no order she will let go of. No woman she will let down. Ruzna runs on empowering, and Booteek runs on Ruzna.

You just got to meet our needlework Guru, Sriyani!! Her skill, commitment, and enthusiasm are unparalleled. She continues to become better and better at everything she does and spreads this knowledge and expertise to the group. Booteek is Sriyani’s sole source of income, and she believes in its ambitious goals to grow. She truly understands the work that we do and is our biggest advocate to develop & change.

Nusrath is a mother of two children and joined Booteek a little after her sister, Sameena, did. She loves to learn new things, and in her time here has mastered making our hand puppets and cross-stitch panels. She eagerly wants to stand up on her own feet and become a good source of income for her family – Booteek is working to make this dream come true!

Sameena has two teenage daughters and works at Booteek to help support them. Sameena can usually be found tucked away in a corner planning and scheming with Ruzna about their next big adventure. She channels this same spirit with everyone at Booteek and is able to cheer anyone in need of a pick-me-up! Sameena joined Booteek in 2013 and has been one of our most frequent members throughout the years – we are very grateful to have her on our team!!

Meet Duminda the 2nd! He too is a part of our packaging team and is one of our neatest painters. Recently he has started learning Cross-stitch from Neela and is enjoying the orderly symmetry of the Cross-stitch. Despite his fear of climbing stairs, Duminda is always at Booteek’s workshop (one flight of stairs above Ground level) painting away!

Lakshika joined Booteek a litter after her mother Irene did. She is a very shy timid person, always with a smile on her face – something she definitely gets from Irene. Lakshika is also a part of our packaging team and each of her painted bags has a magical touch. If you come across a floral paper tote it’s definitely one of Laskhika’s creations. She is also very keen to learn sewing and will start learning how to from Neela, this month.

Asiya is a mother of two and does both needlework and crochet at Booteek. She hates being idle and is constantly pushing us to give her more and more work. She is ready to sew anything at anytime and is looking to make a sustainable living through Booteek.

She originally joined Booteek as a part of our crochet circle and is now a part of our packaging team too. She comes to Booteek with her daughter Nawka and they both spread their kind-hearted, open, energy to us all.

She heard about Booteek in 2015 through the Chitra Lane School and is a part of the Booteek crochet circle. She always has new ideas that she loves discussing with the team and is ready to run with any opportunity that comes her way. Her favorite item to make is the crochet jug cover. Keep an eye out for those as you are browsing along our products.

Nazhath Haara Aziz is one of our newest members. She is a 29 year old single parent with two tiny boys. No matter what struggle comes her way Haara is ready and determined to excel at everything she does. She is talented, adept and hard working and has been a wonderful, inspiring addition to the team.

Amuda is a young mother of three. She is from Hatton, and moved to Colombo after her marriage. She initially joined Booteek to earn a supplementary income, and has slowly grown to love it. She learned to do cross-stitch at Booteek and is now an expert at it! Today, if you see Amuda with a Cross-stitch panel in her hand, she is bound to be smiling.

Kanthi heard about Booteek at the Chitra Lane School for the special child, while waiting to pick her daughter up. She is part of our crochet circle and loves turning out the coin purses. She also loves food and brings us yummy treats whenever she can!

Anjala is a mother of two and comes to Booteek with her daughter Indusha. Anjala Devi came into Booteek to work on our patchwork products, but during her time here she learned to crochet and has moved into the Booteek crochet circle. She has a variety of needlework skills and uses them in whichever way she can.

Indusha is one of our newest members – She is 22 and graduated from the Chitra Lane School for the special child in December, 2017. You can find her sitting silently, with a dreamy look in her eye, as she paints away. She is the daughter of Anjala Devi who is a member of our crochet group. Apart from painting Indusha loves to watch T.V and play with her friends in the neighborhood.

Kema’s story is a little different to most of our other members. In 2014, Kema joined Booteek despite the fact that she did not know how to sew. She was one of our most frequent members and started off by assisting anyone on the team in whatever way she could at the time. Over the years Kema has learned to sew and now works on several Booteek products – right now she is working on our baby puff quilts and cross stitch totes. Kema is still one of our most frequent members and continues to surround us with her kind actions.

He is 41 years old and joined Booteek after graduating from the Chitra Lane School for the Special Child. Duminda paints our up-cycled tea bags that get made into reusable paper totes. He is one of our fastest painters! When he is not painting you can find him sitting next to his mum, Neela, helping her with whatever sewing she is working on. This picture captures only one of Duminda’s wide range of emotions. He is great to be around – we love him!

Meet our lovely, lovely, Aunty Daisy! She is a wealth of new ideas, and we’re learning from her every day. She has several self-engaged jobs and Booteek is just one of them. She has an eye for color and creatively handpicks scrap fabric and turns them into beautiful patchwork pencil cases, table mats, and bean bags.

She is a mother of two girls aged 17 and 9 years. She joined Booteek in 2015 and did not know any sewing at the time. Today she makes several of our finger puppets and yoga mat straps and is a valued member of Booteek. Priyangani says she loves the learning, the earning, and the sense of friendship and support that she gets from the group.

He is Upaseeli’s 35 year old son. Nalaka has learned to do beautiful cross stitch over the years with Booteek and is now a part of our packaging team too! Nalaka’s growing involvement is very special to us because it marks the first steps we’re taking towards a larger goal we’ve had from the very beginning – to create sustainable lives for young adults with special needs.

CREATIVELY EMPOWERING UNDERPRIVILEGED WOMEN AND SPECIAL NEEDS COMMUNITIES IN SRI LANKA