Photo credit: Michael LaNasa
When people speak of “charity”, what they are talking about is one-way work – how are other people benefiting from the charity that I am providing? How are their lives being changed by the money that I give?
Transforming lives of people in need is a good thing, an extraordinary thing! Charity is not a bad word.
However, true development is always a two-way street – both sides (benefactor and recipient) need each other to progress, to truly “develop”. The rich and the poor need each other to become whole.
This is one way that we know that our partnership with Basha has truly been working for development, because people on both sides of the ocean have been gaining something meaningful in this exchange of kantha blankets.
We have written plenty about the one side of this meaning: providing the women artisans (who make the kantha products) with sustainable work that brings them dignity & livelihood in a safe, kind, and wholehearted environment.
On the other side, we have been blown away by the deeper meaning that has been gained on the “giving” side of the “transaction”. So many of these kantha blankets have provided hope, comfort, and kinship to the people that have purchased or received them as gifts.
I have so little actual idea of what has happened to the thousands & thousands of blankets that have left our office. But, stories trickle in:
And, some stories specific to the names of the blanket that were meaningful:
I'm sure there are dozens, if not hundreds, more stories like this.
All of these women have literally held onto these blankets through difficult times in their life, and has given them a symbol of hope as they walked through their own suffering.
The word Basha, in Bengali, means "house" and asha means "hope". Basha is building a house of hope in Bangladesh (their tagline). However, this house of hope in Bangladesh has invited countless women from all over the world into this house, and given them hope on their journey as well.
Every month, we need to put a category in our personal budget for gifts. There is always an event or occasion that is calling for a gift: Christmas, anniversary, birthdays, retirements, graduation, sympathy, gratitude, and on. And, like most people, we want to make the gifts that we give count! So how do we choose a gift that will be meaningful to the recipient?
Giving a gift is, of course, a subjective exercise; there is no perfect formula that will help you reach the “perfect gift”. However, there are certain questions you can ask that will help you choose a meaningful gift for your gift recipient:
Let’s look at these questions, some common gift-giving mistakes, and, finally, some meaningful gift ideas!
Our production partner, Basha, began in one little office in Dhaka, Bangladesh — the most densely populated city in the world. Over the many years they have been in business, creating kantha textiles & jewelry, they have expanded: both in number of staff, and also locations.
It was helpful for some women to leave the norm of their old life environment, to get away, to start fresh in a new city. So, Basha created different offices in varied locations. They established a girls' home to safely house daughters & other vulnerable young women as they come of age.
As Basha has continued to identify the great need of women in Bangladesh, there is another area they have expanded: actively seeking women in brothels & whispering the potential of a new life.
As I was packing for our first family international flight (to London UK), I wanted to make sure that we had everything we needed to make our overnight journey the most comfortable. As you know, those flights can be a little chilly - so I wanted to bring blankets for all of us. Naturally, I wondered...
Can I bring a blanket onto a plane?
In short: YES! According to the TSA you are allowed to both check a blanket in your luggage and to bring a blanket on a plane within a carry-on (and this also includes electric blankets). You can even bring your own blanket in your arms as you would a jacket or hat, without it counting towards your carry-on or personal item limits or paying any extra fees.