Feature

With love, from grandparents

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The generational gap after the development of technology has turned out to be conspicuous in today’s society. The new generation has either forgotten or has been practicing tradition the wrong way. This void between two generations has created cultural incomprehension. In everyday life very few people notice this. Lorina Sthapit, with her sister Irina Sthapit and husband Pursarth Tuladhar, created Aji’s, a social enterprise that has been a bridge between changing generations. The love for their grandmother and her skills inspired two sisters to create a platform for elderly people to do what they knew for ages and loved doing. We sat down with Lorina Sthapit to know more about Aji’s and the social message brought along with their new idea.

Started by convincing their own grandmother, Sthapit sister first put a pair of socks on Facebook. Many people showed positive responses, so they decided to promote the product. Their grandmother was not so sure about selling something she distributed free to the relatives but the overwhelming responses changed her mind. After seeing the joy in their grandmother’s face, the sisters thought to include other elderly people from society. Lorina remembered the initial phase, “We started asking our relatives and neighbors about their grandparent’s skill. Many had no idea whether their parents and grandparents had any skills but they inquired about it and we finally created a group.” Many of them wanted to work without any payment but the share of profit is certainly distributed to all. Earning at this phase of life made them realise their worth. The sisters started collecting various products made by elderly people and sell them online and in retail stores in Nepal and the USA. Today, 30 elderly people sell their handmade products with the help of Aji’s. These products are home goods, jewelries, and accessories like socks, traditional bhoto and blankets for kids, shawl, handkerchief, purse, hanger, mats and many more. Each maker has named their products accordingly which makes the product unique and easily identifiable. “We can find various products made by machines but these products made by the grandfathers and grandmothers are filled with a lifelong experience of love and care.

“These products are not just made to earn but to enjoy the happiness and satisfaction of making.”

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The motive behind Aji’s is not just to collect goods and sell them. They also connect the generations and pass the cultural and traditional ideas. Our grandparents are full of wisdom and experience and we evolved from their learnings. There is an importance to document their lifestyle and legacy, so the Sthapit sisters started a monthly podcast series featuring the life story of various elderly people in our society. Many of us have no idea about what life was like and how things worked during the old days. The podcast has brought forward ideas and ideologies of life. They always have a lot to share and very few people to listen to them. They feel happy if their children and grandchildren show interest in their interests.

The podcast has also connected families. Many members get surprised to know about the struggle of their grandparents. This has inspired others to sit down and listen to the elderly in the family and breach the generation gap. Similarly, different kinds of events are organised by Aji’s helps transfer the skills from much experienced to new learners. Various cooking and knitting workshops are organised from time to time where elderly people teach, the younger generations, their skills, and techniques. This has strengthened the bonding between the older and younger generations. While podcasts and workshops have helped many to learn, few have questions of their own. This is also addressed with a question-answer session where anyone can ask questions related to old traditions, instruments, family and many so on with #AskAnAji on Facebook and Instagram. This session is broadcasted live on Aji’s official Facebook page and a collective question answers are available on their website as well. This has helped the curious youths to find first-hand information that is generally unavailable on the internet.

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Our generation has developed a misconception about aging. We never listen to any suggestions from our grandparents but there is always an instance when their suggestion turned out to be very helpful. They may be technically unaware and physically weak but there is a strong social and emotional awareness within them. The skills that were used before the industrial age are scientifically amazing. Aji’s has proven how love and attention can bring two different people on the same surface of living. This uniqueness of lifestyle is also a form of identity in the world. Also, the stories can always be inspiration and motivation to many. We should be more attentive to our parents and grandparents, you never know if they are best in things you could learn.

Text by Yunish Dahal

Photos by Royal Raj Manandhar and Nirab Tuladhar

To know more about Aji’s Products, please visit their website  www.ajisproducts.org
For their podcasts, visit www.YouTube.com/AjisProducts

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