True Development is a Two-Way Street - dignify

True Development is a Two-Way Street

August 31, 2018

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:


  • A kantha throw toted to and from the hospital for chemotherapy and overnight visits, providing something familiar and a sense of “we [women] can do hard things”

  • Gifted to countless women in grief, as a way to “wrap yourself in love”

  • A woman who received a throw when she herself was living in transitional housing from her life on the street & in the sex industry

  • Given to a friend having difficulty sleeping after her mother’s passing; the blanket she received had small hearts as well as bright, vibrant flowers (a reminder of her mother’s love of Gerber daisies). The first night under her new blanket, she “slept like a baby in a deep relaxed sleep.  That's the power of a gift made by women with love and given by a woman with love.”

And, some stories specific to the names of the blanket that were meaningful:

  • “Serenity” – chosen as a gift from a sobriety sponsee to her sponsor (additional meaning as a reference to the Serenity Prayer from the 10-Step program)

  • “Soon” – a gift given from one friend to another who had been (at the time) two years into a struggle with infertility.

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.


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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.

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