Sirmati Munni Devi lives in a village nestled in the Indian Himalayas with her two children. The 33-year-old used to endure long hard days
of farming and trekking to the forest to collect firewood, while also juggling childcare and household chores. With all of her
responsibilities, she had no time to take care of herself and, besides, the closest clinic was miles away.
However, thanks to a partnership between Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lou & Grey and Village Ways Charitable Trust, her life has dramatically improved. By learning to
sew, Munni now makes products for LOFT and Ann Taylor. It allows her to make more money in less time, which frees her to tend to her and
her children’s needs.
In addition to helping out financially, sewing has created and deepened friendships with the other women in the village. At the newly
constructed community center, Munni shares her daily ups-and-downs with her peers, as well as listening and supporting her fellow
colleagues. Best of all, the additional income has made it possible for her children to attend school.
The partnership between Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lou & Grey and Village Ways Charitable Trust has also brought health and hygiene education programs to Munni’s
village. These classes have taught Munni how to cook low-cost nutritious meals for herself and her family. With the knowledge she has gained,
like how to decontaminate water by bringing it to a boil, she now takes fewer sick days from work.
Now, as a peer health educator, Munni is excited to share her findings with her friends and neighbors. There has already been a noticeable
reduction in typhoid and jaundice at her village—two diseases that used to be commonplace.
Munni often wonders about the women who buy the products she makes. If they ever met, she would like to thank them repeatedly for giving
her a new lease at life.