A Wonderful Story

February 05, 2021 3 min read

3 Comments

Somehow, impossibly, I travelled around the world one year ago!

I am deeply grateful to have taken a trip to Bangladesh when I did. I was at a stage of my life & business when the adrenaline had long worn off, and I was a getting a bit stuck in a cultural mindset trap: "I don't feel like doing this every day."

More details on that, I'll save for another day (or perhaps for a more intimate conversation!). But, let it suffice to say that my colleagues in Bangladesh do NOT operate from that mindset... it doesn't even factor into the conversation.

Being reminded of this, as well as seeing — in person — the inner workings and impact of the blanket biz on the production side... well, it was deeply regenerative for me.

If I had not visited in January 2020, I don't know when that trip would have taken place! Soooo thankful.

 

Here is one story of a woman artisan I met: Poli.

During my week in Bangladesh, I spent time primarily in Dhaka (where the main Basha production centre & management staff are located). But, I also did a short trip to Jessore (a much smaller city, near the India border) to visit another production centre. 

I had heard rumours of the "super-producer" out of Jessore — a woman who was a very fast worker and could create more (excellent-quality) kantha blankets than anyone else in a similar time frame. Because the artisans are paid a day rate plus a rate per piece that they sew, this woman had earned a reputation for raking in the cash at Basha!

 

That was now 🙌, but this was then:

She came to sew blankets through Basha's training partnership with the Salvation Army (in 2016). Her husband was, at that time, ill with Tuberculosis & kidney problems. Poli was working in domestic homes, but earning a poor salary. The Salvation Army offered her training and work; and early on, she was sewing in the day, but still working in homes in the early morning & evenings (to pay for her husband's treatment). Her son also left his studies to work in a car garage to help with support.


As she gained momentum and developed her skills sewing kantha blankets at Basha, she began earning well. She could support her son, who was able to return to his studies (as well as one daughter who is also now studying) This is probably the highest value for a woman in Bangladesh, to be able to support her children in their education. 

The afternoon we arrived in Jessore, Poli left work early to take me and three colleagues for visits to her home & several neighbours' in the village outside of town. When we visited her home (which she had also improved from makeshift to finished), she was SO proud to host me, and was so wonderfully hospitable.

Another source of her great pride was that with her earnings, she was able to help pay a deposit on a tea stall for her husband!

 

Our last visit in the village was to this tea stall. I said (silently) an earnest & fervent prayer for protection against illness as I watched Poli's husband *rinse out* the used tea cups. There was no way I would turn down their buoyant hospitality!

 

There are many "success stories" from our production partner, Basha, that are awash in sadness & grief. In many cases, even while the work situation is so good, problems continue to abound: death, abusive husbands, lost babies.

In Poli's case, there is so much goodness that we can only respond in celebration! I've never tasted tea so good :) . After hearing, earlier in the day, about many artisan's husbands who steal their paycheques to gamble or buy drugs & women... Poli & her husband Mukul's life together was joyful and refreshing.


Check your blanket's label for Poli's name, and let us celebrate together this wonderful story!

 

 


3 Responses

Bj
Bj

February 08, 2021

I recently purchased a blanket for a friend and she was the artisan of the beautiful blanket 💕🙋‍♀️ Poli, I loved hearing of your story & family! I wish I could have met you . Thank you!

Kelly Wiens
Kelly Wiens

February 06, 2021

How fabulous to read this story after receiving a Poli blanket just this week! Thank you for sharing.

These blankets are so beautiful, and they move around our homes. I had one (light blue & gold) on a guest bed, now we’ve moved and the flip side – green – graces another bed on top of a dark blue duvet!

Our latest will be a headboard of sorts – I’ll stitch a few ribbons onto one side of Poli’s stunning quilt and tie the quilt to a rod.

Thank you to you both, Shelly & Wayne, for doing this good work!

Marla
Marla

February 06, 2021

Thank you so much for this heartwarming story. It’s such a humbling reminder of how much I take for granted and how privileged I am to have one of these beautiful blankets made with such purpose. Mine was made by Roni, I rushed immediately to check :), and it is treasured. Thank you for all you do to support these women and their families.

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