On Tuesday 22nd December we visited the Ayesha Abed Foundation’s (AAF) Manikgonj project. This is an initiative of BRAC, the world’s largest NGO organisation (see http://www.brac.net). BRAC works on all levels within the community: schools, micro-financing, agriculture and health, particularly working with expecting and new mothers.
The AAF project was set up by Fazle Abed, the founder and chairperson of BRAC in his wife’s memory, and is set up to mainly help women overcome poverty for themselves and their children through their involvement in craft making and other activities. In total AAF works with 35,000 craft makers throughout Bangladesh.
40% of the population of Bangladesh is under the $1 a day poverty line. The workers at AAF come from the poorest parts of the community and BRAC surveys the community and offers employment to those most in need. Workers start as unskilled makers on 50 Taka (about 50p) wage for an 8 hour shift.
The production centre we visited has 550 makers working with textiles and product design. We were shown round the facilities and were greeted with big smiles and curiosity from the workforce. We observed people working with wood making furniture pieces and block prints, and many textile techniques: block printing, dyeing, screen printing, embroidering, sewing the garments, and even pressing! We run out of time to see the weaving villages but I hope to return very soon!
Brac has set up Aarong, a retail outlet for the craft products made in the different villages and production centres. We are planning a visit to Aarong very soon to see the products retailed.
on Craft and Design
Craft making is the usual way of mass-producing here and it is in contrast to craft making in the UK where professional craft and making skills are usually high value small niche enterprises.
We were accompanied by 2 in house designers who explained the way they work and discovered that the relationship between designer and maker/producer is not as close a working relationship as we might find in some sectors in the UK. We have realised that the training offered in design schools in the UK where designing is combined with a set of making skills is significantly different from the training and background of designers trained in Bangladesh. In the absence of design schools designers train as fine artists and then adapt their understandings to work as designers.
Ps: we travelled 2 hours to get to the centre and loved seeing the countryside. We got carried away and took 455 photographs, many of which we are sharing with you.
we also took lots of short videos of people making
fabric tying for tie dye: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHLLcy0tT8Y
fabric painting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-ONfH14nwQ
fabric dyeing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V7b0xmFXaU
pressing saris: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb2Xhx27o7Q
boy embroidering : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OD2AH5Oqy0
girl embroidering: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVqZsL142Ag