Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Thanapara Swallows

7th July 2010
After a 6 hour train journey, an hours bumpy ride, an amazing dinner and a few more vodka’s late last night we finally got to bed.

Early morning walk around Thanapara Swallows village, it could not be more different to the all consuming hum of Dhaka. It is silent, the only noise is the occasional bleat of a goat and women asking you to join them for breakfast (chilli in the morning….)

Thanapara Swallows does most of the textile and garment production process within the compact grounds. They have bobbiners, dyers, weavers, tailors and embroiderers all working by hand to create the amazing products that they export. Everything they make is handmade, nothing is electricity operated. The tailors use treadle singers, the embroiderers only use hand, the bobbining is done by wheel and the weavers all use hand operated looms.

The vast majority of the people employed by Swallows are women, even weaving which is a male profession is done by women here. It is exciting for me to finally see this, having worked at People Tree for 2 years and emailed Santo (the lovely production/sampling coordinator) almost every day – it is great to meet him and everyone that works here.

I went to visit the embroidery team, and got stopped by a woman who wanted to give me a gift. She had made me a friendship band – it is very funky. I sat down with the women and they set about trying to tie it on my wrist (proved impossible by my incredibly sticky arm).

As these women live in the country side, they are still close to their families. This support is invaluable as the children are all looked after well and go to school right next to where their mothers work. Also living in the country side means they are able to grow many of their own vegetables and fruit, which all tastes amazing as I found out when offered a pomegranate straight from the tree. It seems almost too good to be true.

We also looked around the Swallows school, where the children never stop getting excited to be able to beam “Hallo” to the shiny white faces peeping into their classrooms. They mainly study Bangla, English and Maths. Next door is the childcare centre, where the women that work at Swallows are able to leave their babies and toddlers whilst they work. Being able to leave their children in responsible care gives them so much more freedom to be able to earn money.

In the evening, we took a boat ride along the Ganges. It was the perfect way to end such a perfect day.

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