January 27, 2020
A month after I married my husband, Adam, we moved across the world to Dhaka, Bangladesh, where we lived for two years. We were so lucky to have met some amazing people and really good friends. We were able to travel and experience a completely different area of our world.
While we had some amazing times we were also witness to extreme poverty. Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. Bangladesh is best known for the recent Rana Plaza factory collapse. Many clothing companies have factories in Bangladesh because the labour is cheap and there are always individuals who need work. Because of this, many people are exploited and their workplace conditions are unsafe. However, one organization I was introduced to was Basha Boutique. This organisation helps women who are at risk, or survivors of trafficking. There, women are taught valuable skills to support themselves, and many times their family.
Basha would often be set up at markets and I was always drawn to their booth. It was colourful and beautiful and the ladies always called for me! I always had to convince Adam that I should buy kantha blankets to give as gifts and only keep the beautiful kantha placemats for myself. Well, we have been home for 3 years now and I have not been able to part with any of my kanthas! They are gorgeous, and I love that I am supporting an organization that is empowering women and their families!
What I love the most about these gorgeous kanthas is that they are made by reusing saris. In Bangladesh colourful saris dot the landscape, worn by women helping with the rice cultivation, fetching water, resting in the shade, cooking the family meal or nurturing children. Once discarded from the wardrobe, the saris’ life has only just begun! For centuries, Bengali women have painstakingly stitched their time softened saris with straight even stitches into items of beauty and for home use. Whether it’s wrapping a newborn, or for providing warmth on a chilly night, the kantha blanket is a fixture in every Bengali home.
Kantha, meaning “patched cloth” provides a glimpse into the thrift and artistry of Bengali woman. Spanning generations and multiple variations, the art of stitching together remnants of worn saris is a work of love. During the long afternoons of summer, women gather to pass the time and amid the laughter and stories, a kantha is born.
To create the kantha, the saris are sourced from a wide variety of locations in Bangladesh. The saris are then carefully colour matched and washed. Hand stitching then begins joining the 6 layers of sari cloth. Once complete, the item is washed again. Each product is unique and often can never be replicated! Your kantha oil pouch may have a “sister pouch” but each one is different and unique!
Basha’s vision is to continue to grow as long as there are women in Bangladesh in need of dignified work. Basha dreams of a day when women are not at risk of exploitation and don’t live in fear.
Through dignified work, Basha provides a sustainable livelihood for women at risk and survivors of trafficking. Women gain job skills and the opportunity to develop into leaders and entrepreneurs in a healthy, healing environment. Each woman’s story varies, but one commonality they all have is their high risk of harm or exploitation. Basha works with employees’ children too, ensuring the cycle of poverty and victimization is broken.
Basha, where your purchase changes lives & builds futures.
We think this is a powerful partnership and cannot wait to see you using your Basha/Earthly Healing kantha oil pouches!
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