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.
For many of us — perhaps especially if you have kids in school, or an affinity for fall —, September is the perfect time for a fresh start. I wrote last week about my fresh exercise start after a summer of indulgence!
Whether it is the new calendar year, or a new school year, milestones offer a great chance for fresh starts. I think it is a fantastic time to dream about what will be different, what systems can change & improve, and how to begin well.
But here we are, mid-way through September, and I want to offer another thought:
Before we get started… In case you are wondering: Yes, I am aware that dignify, here, where you’re reading this, is an online store! And that I sell things here.
Indeed, I want to sell kantha quilts — lots of them! But, in my desire to create opportunities for dignity for women sewing blankets in Bangladesh, I still want to preserve the dignity of our customers, and of ourselves.
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