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Today I visited a community that Food For the Hungry had a presence in for about ten years. In keeping with the development model FH works towards, they were able to leave this muslim and hindu community when their trainings allowed many of the members roles of leadership and entrepreneurship. My realization on this trip is that when you sponsor a child, (like my little Fulmoti) you aren’t just sponsoring a child. You are sponsoring the impact of a community. Many students grow up to give back to the community itself and many of the students parents participate in the Savings and Learning groups. Eventually, the education and commerce are sustained by the people who were given the tools to tap into skills many of them didn’t know they had. For instance…
Meet Kosinoor. She was trained by FH to become a seamstress. Now her living is giving classes to other women in the community so that they can learn how to make their own living. They will take classes from Kosinoor for as long as it takes for them to go rogue.
This is Mousumi who comes to take lessons. She’s been taking for one month. She is seventeen and was married six months ago. I asked if it was arranged and if she had known her husband before they got married and she said, “Yes. He is my cousin.”
Kosinoor showed me how she would give a lesson. She even let me sew. (And by “let me sew” I mean she did everything and allowed my hands on the fabric as it was pulled through.) We shot a video documenting this, but the Bangladesh internet has decided it hates Vimeo and Youtube the last two days. If we can figure them out later I will post them to the LRN Facebook page.
This is a salwar kameez which is what I’ve been wearing here all week. The shawl I wear over my chest isn’t a fashion statement either- it’s called an orna. If I don’t have it on, it’s pretty much like I’m topless. Yeah, don’t get your orna caught in the door.
This is just a random photo from the day that I enjoyed. This baby kept looking at me like this for a solid five minutes. Which proves I can frighten/bewilder a child in any language or country.
This is Metu. She is eighteen years old and was a fast learner. She finished her training in one month and made this incredible piece. She is unmarried and her family helped her purchase her own sewing machine for 6,000 taka. (Approx. $75)
This is Kosinoor. And this is a picture of dignity.
Meet Eti. As a member of an Food for the Hungry health and savings group she took out a 60,000 taka loan (money pooled together from Eti and her other community members) to open her own beauty parlor. For a season, things with her husband were rocky and she needed to support herself and two daughters. One of her many incredible skills is a treatment called, “threading.”
Threading is a process of shaping the eye-brows. It’s done with (shocker alert) thread and jedi mind tricks. It’s a skill that is incredible to watch and odd to experience. It’s like mini hedge clippers for your face. The thread wraps around Eti’s fingers in such a way that when she pulls one end it gathers a small portion of your brow (enter pain and small winces) and voila!
Trying to go to my happy place.
I have zero control over my tear ducts when anything is done to my eyebrows. Even if it doesn’t hurt, my face contorts into my “ugly cry face”. For those of you who have seen my ugly cry face- you know how frightening this can be for all parties involved. Poor Eti. This is me during one of my many breaks to wipe my tears and promise everybody I wasn’t really crying or in as much pain as my face would lead one to believe.
Our whole group ended up getting threaded before we asked Eti questions about her life, independance and dreams for her daughter. Thankfully she and her husband are back together and both have jobs supporting their two daughters. Both parents also want their daughters to grow up, get educated and not get married before they are ready. All of this brought music to my ears and felt like such a picture of healing and restoration. I pray that Eti’s salon will be a place women can go for encouragement and sharing stories like the ones we heard today.
This is Eti. And this is a picture of dignity.
Well friends- Thank you for following along. It’s been an incredible journey and I head home tomorrow. I leave you with pre and post eye-brow threading photos by my friend Esther.
This is not a picture of dignity. Just your typical post-thread-swelling and fighting off my lazy eye.
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.