“Every girl who studies in Bangladesh is financially dependent on somebody else, I think that is the real barrier to women’s education and empowerment. This observation has come to my mind over the past five years. How? I will tell you.” says Mahfuza one of the producers of Sreepur Village Trade.
“In 2012, I was in grade eight and after the completion of my exams; I had three month’s free time. My father is a marginal farmer which means it is really difficult for him to maintain a large family. My sister got married and because of the financial situation my brother left his studies to join a garment factory. I was scared that I would also have to leave my studies. So, at that point I thought I have to do something in order to continue my studies. Some of my neighbouring aunts went to The Sreepur Village to make cards. In their spare time they bring raw materials and make the cards in their own homes. I liked the idea and asked them if they would take me to the Village. Although I was a little younger than everyone else when they heard the “cause” of my interest, they give me some materials. Primarily, I was a little nervous, but when I submitted the finished cards they were really satisfied. Consequently, my journey of self-reliance started.”
“So what has changed in these last five years? My brother is back to studying (besides his job) because now there is no extra economic pressure on him. I can also help my father a little bit too. The most significant area of success is that I could proceed with my education. I finished my two major board examinations all funded by my own income. For the last five years, I have paid all my educational and personal costs myself, and this was only made possible because of Sreepur Village Trade. Sreepur Village Trade has helped me to become a self-reliant girl. Besides studying, I have been working at home to produce the handmade cards.”
“Sometimes I think I’m a very lucky girl! Why? When I go to The Sreepur Village, many women who are between 18 and 20 years of age already have two or three children. Some of these women are divorced, separated and many have been tortured. As a girl from a poor family, this could have also occurred in my life, but it did not happen because I got help from Sreepur Village Trade. However, my future plan is to develop my career in the nursing profession. If I cannot get onto a nursing course, then I will study a general programme. I will try to work for the Sreepur Village. The whole credit of my present condition is going to the Sreepur Village Trade. They have changed my life.”
To mark World Fair Trade Day, we have some beautiful cards made by Mahfuza and the other women of The Sreepur Village. Each card that they produce is intricately crafted by hand and uses naturally sourced materials and dyes from vegetables and plants. Making a Sreepur card is a journey of dedication and time and ultimately one that enables these women, like Mahfuza, to be financially independent, safe and secure, away from a life full of poverty and fear.
To buy a #FairTradeDay card then please visit: www.sreepurcards.org lets #LiveFair and spread the word.
Ignorance and wrong beliefs surrounding disability, compounded with a negative and derogatory attitude of the community (including family members) have contributed to the marginal development in the disability sector in Bangladesh.