We have been collecting stories to share with you for Fair Trade Day (May 12) and Mother’s Day (May 13), and I’ll be honest, I am completely overwhelmed and emotional as they flood my inbox from our five production and training centres throughout Bangladesh. You see, I get their before stories too. I read about two mothers who were prescribed formula for their infants by a doctor. When their breast milk had dried up and their money was gone, they sold their bodies to feed their babies. I read about a teen mom chasing the father of her unborn baby to find herself rejected, pregnant and homeless. I read about a girl moving into our hostel where she can finally find safety after being rejected repeatedly by her family and by her husband. She is motivated to earn so she can get custody of her daughter again.
But do not underestimate the power of an opportunity. A living wage. A safe and supportive workplace. A daycare where children can learn and flourish.
With overwhelming financial problems, Poli had to send her son to work at a garage. Now that she has a job at Basha, she has been able to enrol her son back in school. Women who never were able to go to school themselves are now sending their children to school. Ranu’s* daughters wouldn’t acknowledge her when she lived in a brothel. Now she is working at Basha, building a relationship with her grown daughters, and supporting her younger daughter’s college education.
My heart breaks for the mothers still out there, living in brothels, abandoned by their husbands, shunned by their in-laws, devastatingly poor. Let’s do more, friends. Let’s do more. Let’s get more women into training and rehabilitation programmes so they can provide for their children. Let’s provide nutritious snacks to children so they can learn and grow into healthy adults. Let’s fill our women’s hostel, giving them safety and support to get on the right track. Together we can.
“This is what we do, my mother’s life said. We find ourselves in the sacrifices we make.” -Cammie McGovern, Neighborhood Watch
“The most benevolent souls are the one’s who have had to drink some of life’s worst poisons, yet protected others in their lives from ever having to taste them.” -Josè N. Harris