Beyond the limelight are millions of women around the world, living quiet and unknown lives, nonetheless filled with dignity and value. Moms, Teachers, Business Owners, Seamstresses, Artists, Daughters.
Each woman (& man!) in this world is a precious creature, valued not by our popularity, our visibility, what we produce, or even our roles. We have value, simply, because we are. OurWomen of Dignity series profiles these women. [You can nominate a woman, too.]
Robin is a social worker by trade, and now the director of operations (& founder) of Basha Enterprises. Basha is the business in Bangladesh that hires women (after completing NGO training) for long-term, sustainable, dignified employment.
Hear her story:
The train was late to take my visitors to Dhaka, meaning I was at the Mymensingh train station much later than usual. Familes were beginning to lay their bedding on the platform to sleep for the night. Two pre-teen girls chatted with one another. One didn’t have a mother. The other didn’t have a father. “They’ll be in prostitution soon,” I was told by my savvy guide who understood their vulnerability. Across from them a new mother held her four day old son... starting his young life with no bed, no home. An older woman, clearly insane, threatened me, saying she’d slash my throat. “Losing your senses: this is what happens to everyone growing old in the sex profession,” I’m told by my guide. I see the mother of a teen I knew, proud of her comparatively solid tent-like structure next to the railroad tracks, paid for by selling her body. Her daughter had started following in her footsteps by age 13.
We had already started training women who wanted to leave prostitution. As I saw several of these women, waving brightly, showing me their books to practice their literacy, beaming with hope, I knew my four year term with an NGO was not the end of my time in Bangladesh. Not when so many women were desperate for a way out.
Realizing that sustainable employment in a safe, sensitive work environment could change everything for these women, I founded Basha in May of 2011. As discarded cloth is transformed into our trademark kantha products, so discarded lives are transformed with renewed dignity and hope for the future.
"It's really a privilege to be part of Basha where so many lives are changed. The women are proud of their work and they are thrilled when people cherish the things they've made. For now, Bangladesh is my home and I can't imagine being anywhere else. Each woman we work with was created in the image of God and deserves dignity and love. To be able to help women discover that through dignified work is an incredible honour."
Basha has a non profit partner, Friends of Basha, that supplements their programs. Day care for children, personal & professional development, fresh starts for vulnerable women, education, social support, job skill training, and more are funded through sales of blankets and supplemented by donations to Friends of Basha, a 503(c)3 nonprofit organization based in USA). Find out more & donate today by visiting Basha's website.
This week was “Giving Tuesday”, a day that has captivated consumers into funnelling some of the shopping mania (of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend) into charitable giving.
One of the huge questions that potential donors have is: what happens to my money when I donate?
It’s a great question, and a worthy one to ask.
👆This was a question I received from our contact form a few months ago.
With respect, I think that starting with this question... probably reveals that we are beginning on different pages. Nonetheless, it is a conversation worth exploring and a question worth asking.
In fact, what the writer asked for was a comparison list; so, here we go:
I dislike the overblown, frenetic, & scarcity-minded ethos of Black Friday. Plus, dignify always has our own one-day, once-a-year sale earlier in November. So: why participate in any of it?!
This is a tension that I have wrestled with over 6 holiday seasons, end every year, I’m back at the drawing board.
This year, we decided that yes, we would offer free shipping over the weekend as a BFCM (industry shorthand for Black Friday/Cyber Monday) bonus. And yes, what led us there was simple economics. It works, it makes money, it makes sense. But, probably not in the same way that you think...
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