Working with Nepal Leprosy Trust Leather Handicraft Workshop

AURA QUE has been working with the Nepal Leprosy Trust (NLT) since 2006 when I first visited the workshop looking for fair trade producer groups to work with as research for my final year degree project. Since then I have visited them every year to sample and produce new products and have got to know many of the people who work there, really well over the years.

It has been our commitment over the years to improve their understanding of quality production, when I was living mostly in Kathmandu between 2009-2012, working directly with the workshop to develop their leather making skills, sourcing materials, improving their making quality as well as equipment and processes. This has been a challenging process, especially for AURA QUE, as a small business with limited resources, but this has enabled me to really get to know all the producers in the workshop over the years, seeing their children grow up, and improve their sampling capacity with other clients as well as AURA QUE.


Many of the producers at NLT have been employed for over twenty years, having had leprosy themselves or someone in their family who is affected, and they have been referred from the charity or were housed short term in the longhouse accommodation next to the factory. Some workers, such as Amar, Bhagawati and Chymsi have since retired in the time we have worked with NLT, but have popped back in from time to time to say hello!
Having such personal connections with the people we work with, really spurs us on at AURA QUE to increase our sales, in order to continue to provide work for NLT and our other producers in Kathmandu. See our Instagram/facebook social media posts for stories of the individual producers we work with!
What is NLT?
Nepal Leprosy Trust was set up in 1972 by Eileen Lodge and registered as an NGO (Non-governmental organizations) in Nepal and charity trust in UK/Ireland, funding the Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital and Services Centre in South Nepal, which was built in 1990 and provides leprosy diagnosis, treatment and equipment free of charge to leprosy sufferers as well as community support and education about the diagnosis and stigma of leprosy.

The NLT office near Kathmandu is the headquarters of Nepal Leprosy Trust in Nepal, and provides solid support to the rest of the organization in Nepal, liaising with the Government, purchasing and sending supplies to Lalgadh, looking after patients that are travelling from Lalgadh to Kathmandu for specialist treatment. The office is also the base for the in-house leather handicraft workshop, set up to employ individuals who have suffered from leprosy or have someone in their family who has been affected, to give them opportunities through work. NLT is a member of Fair Trade Nepal and profits go to supporting NLT’s social welfare initiatives, and to the work at Lalgadh Leprosy Service Centre in South Nepal.

Recently the NLT Kathmandu office and workshop had to be partially demolished to accommodate a road-widening programme implemented by the Nepali Government. During 2016, building work went ahead to have cut 10ft from the entire 80ft frontage of the 4-storey headquarters building as well as extending it backwards by 5ft to reclaim some available space. This has been really unsettling for the workshop, as they had to move to the nearby longhouse premises temporarily, but as it is in Nepal, they just got on with it! And are now back in the main building, though waiting for the wider road to be finished to reduce the dust – this has been going on for a really long time... Having said that, there is now a rumour that the government wants to make the road even wider, which would destroy the building and render it useless. Fingers crossed this will not happen!

NLT operates several socio-economic support projects to help individuals and families. These offer training, housing and other assistance to our producers and people who are destitute.
Lydia Children’s Fund is a monthly sponsorship scheme that enables children from disadvantaged families to remain with their families and receive an education. Around 80 children are currently supported, and there is always a waiting list requiring more sponsors to come forward. This is a sure way to contribute very positively to the life of a very poor child, and perhaps help that child and their family out of the terrible poverty that traps so many in Nepal. The £12 per month sponsorship money goes to support the child and family concerned.
Financial Assistance Scheme provides practical help to disadvantaged women, senior citizens, people affected by leprosy and others unable to provide for themselves.
Small-scale income generation and training: NLT responds to the specific needs of individuals on the verge of becoming destitute, by helping them get established with a trade such as animal husbandry or tailoring. A number of women have been taught felt-making skills and make a range of felt bags and toys which are sold as Himalayan Handicraft products.
Please visit for more information on donations and their work.

Laura Queening


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published