Isabel Martin was born in 7th January 1926 in Salamanca in Spain. She was the youngest of seven children and the only daughter of her parents.
After completing her nursing career, she decided to be a religious and at a tender age of 18 joined the Missionaries of Christ Jesus in Javier, Spain. After her religious formation in Spain Isabel was appointed to India in the year 1955, when Group Captain Leonard Cheshire had just asked the MCJ pioneers in India if they would run the Cheshire Home in the then Jungles of Mahakali, Andheri, Bombay.
Her association with the MCJ sisters fanned the desire that she held in her heart. She was able to serve the people and she touched the lives of many whom she met. A nurse by profession, young Isabel along with 2 other sisters dedicated herself to the care of the paraplegic residents of Cheshire Home. She lived through the hardships of those early years, in the midst of the thick jungle uninhabited by people, with scarce water and electricity and no roads nor transport.
She soon was appointed to Damanpur village in Jalpaiguri District, West Bengal where she worked as a nurse among the Adivasis. She also took care of 500 little tribal girls.
Her desire to serve the people could not find completion in helping people alone. Her tenure as novice mistress instilled in her the desire to do something for the Indian women. She wanted to become one with the women and desired to live with them. Sr. Isabel lived in a small room in Meghwadi slum and explored the area of Mahakali-Achanak Colony daily.
In 1986 through the organization “Jeevan Nirvaha Niketan” Sr. Isabel began to reach out first to the children who did not attend school and worked to supplement the families income. Meeting with the mothers of these children gave us a glimpse into the reality of their situation. The women needed to be strengthened economically to support themselves and their children.
This led to the creation of the first Women Self Employed Cooperative (WSEC) in the 1980’s. Few women gathered together to learn the skill of sewing. They started out with small soft toys and textile items.
All this began in a Slum area in Achanak Colony on Mahakali caves Road in Andheri. At a time when most people retire, Sr. Isabel found a new Home and a new Purpose. To make vulnerable Slum women economically Independent.
And from the small group of 4 or 5 women, we began to grow. Creative Handicrafts was registered as a Non Religious and Independent Non Governmental organization in 1994.
Throughout it all Sr. continued to be actively involved in all aspects of the work, be it the food unit” Asli Foods” or with the children of the Crèche, Preschools and Child Development centre. She kept the desire and hope alive in the women and was always by their side inspiring them to be more and achieve more.
Today Creative Handicrafts runs 13 co-operatives in different slums. Recognizing her herculean efforts in the easing of sufferings of women the Government of Spain bestowed on her second highest civilian award, the “Premio Principe De Vienna de la solidaridad – 2010”.
And her efforts continue to be recognized Nationally. In 2012 Creative Handicrafts was recognized as "An Outstanding Fair Trade Organization".