Basha cuppa

Good morning how are you I am fine please come again, as she fires words off in rapid succession. In the early days she said she couldn’t learn- she avoided all the classes, Bangla, English. It all just seemed too hard to her. As did everything else. Uneducated. Abandoned by her husband. Abandoned by her family. Deserted by everyone who should have treasured her. Forced into a brothel. Then the harsh streets of Dhaka.


She found Children’s Uplift Program. And they did all they could to find work for her. But she couldn’t learn to read and write. She couldn’t focus to sew or make their beaded jewellery. They invested in a tea stall for her to run. But her tea sometimes it’s good, but sometimes there’s too much sugar, sometimes too much milk. She had customers, but someone without power- they can’t always get their customers to pay. What wasn’t taken or sold, she drank, until her pulse raced and she would lie awake all night. It was soon clear this enterprise was not going to succeed. It was time to count the losses and admit failure.


Basha came into being. But she still couldn’t sew, and the kantha blanket, a product all Bengali women are familiar with and can typically learn, for her was impossible. She began helping with day care. But a woman who can’t read, how can she help the children learn? And her frustrations with herself and the stress of the job- she would sometimes pound her head on the wall and collapse in tears. 
And now she cleans. And when the office floors are clean, that’s her. When you receive a soft clean blanket, that’s her. And when literacy and English classes are taught, she’s there, learning as best she can. And when you visit our office and are served a cup of tea, that’s her. and just maybe the sugar and milk will be exactly right!


Over the years I have developed a picture of what a human being living humanely is like. She is a person who understand, values and develops her body, finding it beautiful and useful; a person who is real and is willing to take risks, to be creative, to manifest competence, to change when the situation calls for it, and to find ways to accommodate to what is new and different, keeping that part of the old that is still useful and discarding what is not. – Virginia Satir