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Elis Mufarroha

Artisan Organization: Elis Mufarroha

Country: Indonesia

"I work in macramé. At the beginning, this project was bit unexpected. When I was in my early pregnancy, my father gave me a piece of wood and a roll of macramé thread. He told me that those had to become a macramé item. I didn't know how, so I researched on the Internet and learned online. For my tools, I use only scissors and all my designs are handmade. Now, I have my own workshop where nine men and 60 women artisans collaborate with me.

"I was born in, Buleleng, Bali in 1994, the first born in the family. At that time when I was a little girl, our life wasn't easy. My father was a teakwood seller, and hadn't yet begun working in macramé. When he went to sell teakwood, he could be gone for a month or two, and the income was not good. We lived below the poverty line, and even my brother and sister and I had to collect wood from the nearest beach after school. We did that to help my mother.

"The difficulties in my life continued until I was in junior high school. My parents divorced, and that was the hardest moment of my life. Even though the economy wasn't good, I still continue my studies to senior high school. With the cost of my education covered by my grandmother, mother, and father, I finally passed senior high school. Despite the bad economy and my parents' divorce, I didn't give up.

"Having grown so much is not without problems. I organized our work to have one person coordinate teams of ten. For example, when I create a new cushion cover style, I create a prototype and give the design to the coordinator and explain how it should be done. He explains to the rest of the team and they work on it. The materials we use aren't hard to find in Bali. The macramé thread and the rattan can be bought on local shops, and usually I buy the wood from local fishermen who collect it.

"I hope my workshop can continue to grow so I can give job to others. Most of my assistants are my neighbors, friends, and even family. Many housewives can earn money by working on my macramé and I want to be able to give jobs to my neighbors. I also trained my aunt and cousins in this art.

"I have a son, and I don't push him to continue with this workshop one day. I just want to provide for him though this project, so he can have better childhood than I did. But if someday he became interested in continuing my work, then I will teach him and guide him."

"The one that has helped me through the bad time in life is this — I keep telling myself 'Everything has its own time. There is a time for happiness, there is a time for sorrow, there is a time to keep moving. Everything has its time.' This helps me realize that I shouldn't worry about a thing. I also live by the rule 'Be kind to everyone, because however we live our lives, kindness will come back to us.' So I always try to be kind to all my neighbors and relatives.""