Why street cobblers?

Roshan Deen is a cobbler in Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Shoe repair craftsmen like Roshan Deen are referred to as ‘mochees’ or cobblers and in majority they ply their trade off street pavements, however Roshan Deen has not got that luxury and has to settle for a make shift platform over an open sewage line. He has been sitting on his makeshift platform  for the last 7 years and he has been a street cobbler for 40 odd years, Roshan Deen can not recall the exact number of years he has been a street cobbler but after 40 years in the trade you would expect him to have had a shop or a better location to ply his trade from no? but Roshan Deen leads a day to day existence with no savings to see him and his family over the next day, in Roshan Deen’s words if he does not work 7 days a week he has no hope of feeding himself, his wife and two daughters. Roshan Deen is at the very sharp end of micro-enterprises, he works 7 days a week, has little hope of improving his business or life style, he is skilled but lacks the skills that may help him grow his business, he is not begging, he is working hard as nails to live on the poverty line. Can you tell us of a better place to try and start our work of poverty alleviation?

A street cobbler called Roshan Deen from Haripur

Roshan Deen is not alone, we have surveyed 448 cobblers in 4 areas in Pakistan for our pilot project and over the course of the coming weeks we will be introducing you to most of them via our blog, facebook page and youtube channel. We shall be introducing you to the statsistics we have gathered and the painful insights we have gained to this community’s existence. And we hope to show you how a little help can go a long way for people like Roshan Deen.

It takes less than £7. (roughly US $10) to get started as a street cobbler, this is the cost of buying the tools and materials and as the majority of them are based off street pavements they have no other over heads, most do not even have a make shift roof like Roshan Deen does to keep the sun off him. It is a low skill and low cost enterprise to set up with significant demand and hence attractive to unskilled, uneducated and unemployed individuals like Roshan Deen.

So when people ask us why street cobblers our response is why not? and if you can think of one then tell us of a better trade to start our work with we would love to hear form you. If our work makes sense to you then visit our website and see how you can get involved from a distance or hands on we welcome any and all the help we get.

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