The Mandiri Craft workshop on Jl. Parangtritis Km 7 in Sewon, Bantul, Yogyakarta, has been a driving force for a community of people with disabilities to create beautiful objects.
The artisans at the workshop have various disabilities. Some were born with physical disabilities, while others were involved in traffic incidents, hurt in workplace accidents or were survivors of the 2006 earthquake.
They gather at the workshop where they feel at home. They talk and make handicrafts, creating educational toys from mahogany or speakers from bamboo. They have exported hundreds of such speakers to Europe.
The community’s members prefer the term “diffable”, derived from “different abilities”. They work with ease, producing results that are in no way of low quality, despite their makers’ limitations.
The craftsmanship is not only comparable to the work of people without disabilities, but is sometimes even better because the community’s members are serious and meticulous in choosing materials, cutting, drawing patterns and finishing the crafts.
The whole process is done in a team — the group’s members complement each other to obtain maximum results.
The workshop has a store, which is also staffed by people with disabilities. In addition, they send their handicrafts to popular markets such as in Malioboro, Taman Pintar and other outlets across Yogyakarta. They fill orders from Jakarta, Semarang, Bandung, Surabaya and abroad.
The crafts are sold for between Rp 30,000 (US$2.30) to Rp 150,000.
The management of Mandiri Craft said the workshop was established with assistance from Japan after the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake, in which Bantul was hardest hit.
Although the craftspeople said they felt comfortable at Mandiri Craft, they hoped things would improve with government support. They said the government’s current support for the disabled community was inadequate. [evi]