Monday, 19 July 2010


18th July

Again, some of us just cannot hold our drink… I am down at breakfast at 8.30 as agreed, but we don’t manage to leave until 10.

We rocketed through jaw dropping scenery, hills and banana palms on one side – lake Kaptai on other. The roads were clear, but this did not stop the copious amounts of potholes and speedbumps. Glad that I don’t get car sick!

Stopped at a few more check points where they painstakingly filled out our info twice. By the time we arrive at the hotel no one is feeling well. I recover after a little rest, but the others seem determinedly grumpy.

We head for Boyon textiles, the last group we have to visit. They have only just begun to work for Folk, and do not look as well organized as the others we have visited. Overall, the atmosphere is nowhere near as uplifting as the others, but not entirely depressing. As per usual there is a powercut, so they are in more darkness than they would be usually. The women seem unfriendly at first, but as we get talking to them – they begin to smile and chat. This group only weaves orni – or scarves. They employ about 60 women weavers and 20 men.

Most of the women here have been to school up until class 6 (about 11). There is no doubt they would be in a worse position if they didn’t work here as there is not much work for women to be had. Again, there biggest expenses are food, and half their wage is spent on this. Their children all seem to go to school, and their mothers want them to become either teachers or doctors.

Back at the hotel (another one with spectacular views, this time of lake Kaptai) I meet Gerry. An Irishman, who works in consultancy for the ILO and UNDP (directly involved with the Millennium Development Goals) He takes me for a drink at a bar! Who new there was a bar here! Sadly, Miki is feeling too worse for wear to indulge in alcohol, but I jump at the chance to sit in a bar! They are out of beer and wont be getting any more until Friday, so I have to settle for the delightful combination of gin and sprite as Gerry tells me about his work. He started off a charted accountant, but twenty years ago he decided it wasn’t for him and walked out. Since then he has been working on local economic development through the improvement of value chains. In Rangamati, he has been working on coconut, turmeric and banana – figuring out the barriers to farmers success. I tell him about my research so far into Fair Trade, he seems unimpressed, he doesn’t believe there is any future in hand woven textiles and that these women need access to technology to make it an economically sustainable business model.

I come away feeling deflated, surely Gerry would know. 20 years specializing in this?

Biplob leaves for Dhaka on the night bus, we wish him well and he makes us promise to phone him or Silas as soon as we have booked our tickets. Miki is not well, he has a fever and his face is swollen again (looking a little like Rocky) so it is best we stay the night here and make a decision in the morning.

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