Kumudini Handicrafts’ Embroidery work is done by women all over Bangladesh, many of whom come from the poorer areas of the country. In many cases they are neglected, exploited and abandoned by their families /husbands. The work they do for Kumudini handicrafts has enabled them to earn a steady income and support themselves and their children. Many women have also managed to save and invest in small businesses. This ability to earn has also given them status and a voice in the family group. Thus, Kumudini Handicrafts is enriching and empowering women all over the country, one artisan a time. Here are some of their stories:
Shilpi Biswas’ first introduction to Kumudini Handicrafts was when she accompanied her mother (who did embroidery work) to Kumudini’s premises in Narayanganj. After her mother passed on, she started working for the Handicrafts Projects. She worked in various departments including Store, Quality Control, Production etc. At the same time she learnt embroidery work and started working as an artisan in her spare time. Since then she has not looked back. Through hard work and perseverance she quickly developed into a skilled embroidery worker. In 2010 she won the first prize of Tk. 50,000 (for needlework) in a contest organized by Karu Shilpa Parishad.
She is now married and has two children, both of whom are studying – one in college and the other in Class 8.
As she says, “ The income I receive from Kumudini Handicrafts has enabled me to provide an education for my children. I was not able to study beyond Class 9, but I hope that I will be able to provide better education and thereby a better life for them.”
Habiba Begum came to Kumudini Handicrafts in 1993 . After receiving training in Nakshi Kantha Embroidery, she worked as Group leader of an Embroidery Group functioning through an NGO project. When in 1997, the project closed down, She formed her own group in Naogaon producing Nakshi Kantha Work for Kumudini Handicrafts. The funds she earned through this enabled her to pay for her daughter’s wedding.
Now she lives with her parents in Narayanganj and works full time for Kumudini Handicrafts, while also supporting her differently abled sister financially.
When Habiba developed fistula as a result of an infection, Kumudini Handicrafts stood by her arranging to have this operated upon and providing full follow on support at Kumudini Hospital free of charge. Habiba says, “Thanks to my work with Kumudini Handicrafts, I have a decent life. I support my parents and have also managed to save Tk. 2 lacs”.
A NATIVE OF Narayanganj, Jharna Begum only managed to study up to Class IV. When she was 16 she first came to learn of Kumudini Handicrafts from another woman of her village who did embroidery work for the project and supported her family thereby. Later, she asked me whether Jharna would be interested to do such work. She first visited Kumudini’s Narayanganj office more out curiosity than anything else and found that she liked the environment there. Subsequently, she decided to take Embroidery training. Thereafter, she too started doing embroidery and providing income support to her family.
In the meantime, Jharna entered the Shilu Abed embroidery competition and won Tk. 10,000 as the second prize. From the savings she accumulated, she paid for her brother’s schooling up to Class XII. She also got married. However, only 2 years after marriage, her husband left her. However, she continued her embroidery work and was able to buy land and build the house she now lives in with her son (who is studying in class 9).