‘Shuvo shokal’ (Good morning)
Others offers a fresh start in life.
“Yes, the people absolutely have a very entrepreneurial culture in Bangladesh,” said April Foster. “They’re hardworking, productive, and efficient.”
April, who is director of the USA Eastern Territory’s Others Trade for Hope program, has traveled to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh several times to offer women and men there an opportunity to empower themselves and their families by producing products for sale.
Others began in Bangladesh in the late 1990s and has since spread to include partnerships in Kenya, Pakistan, and other parts of the developing world. Its lush greenery and many waterways notwithstanding, Bangladesh has been plagued by poverty, war, overpopulation, and catastrophic weather events. Despite the challenges, the people work hard to create a better future.
Foster is particularly excited about the opportunities in Bangladesh and is inspired by the women and their work ethic. “For example, we would talk about new designs for things and then, the very next day, those designs would be there,” she said. “It’s just a high level of industriousness where they say, ‘Yes, we can do this. We’re not going to miss this opportunity.’”
Rather than the typical charitable giving, Others offers something different. “It’s a face–to–face connection with people,” Foster said. “It’s not charity. It gives strength and hope to people. Everyone is bringing to the table what they have. Together, we make something beautiful and positive. It’s a healthy relationship. It’s about how to weave a genuine partnership. The common thread (the fabric loom), brings this all together.”
Major Soo Jung Kim, Mission & Culture Department secretary, accompanied April on a recent trip to Bangladesh. Kim later said at a chapel service in New York, “The producers may be living with very limited resources and not sure what would be promised tomorrow, but we declare that God has planned something better for our friends. Together with us, would they be made perfect, and together with our friends, would we be made perfect.”
Others is making a difference in Bangladesh, one person at a time. “These are not sad stories,” said Foster. “They are stories of hope and strength. They’re about peoples’ future and how Others plays a part in making that future. We are together, being made whole.”
Aduri lives in Savar, Bangladesh and is a soldier at The Salvation Army corps. A mother of three children, she is helping her husband make ends meet. They live in a rented house. “School fees for our children are very high,” Aduri says. “I went to The Salvation Army asking if there was any work I could do to help support my children.” They told her about Others.
“I started making the embroidered hearts for Others and saw how my life was improving with the income I made.” Aduri told other women in her community about this opportunity. Today, she has five women who she has trained to also make the hearts. “I am able to pay for the school expenses of my children,” she says. “Others has been
a great blessing in my life.”
Ameena has been married for 12 years and has two children. “I have been with the Others program for five years. It was challenging for me when I first started working with Others, because I had a young child. I had no income when I first joined the group. I was trained in skills like working with jute and embroidery.”
Ameena’s income helps to support her family.
“I have become very good at tailoring and I make all the clothes for my family,” she says. With the income from Others, Ameena has purchased chickens and ducks for cultivation. “I am very happy that I am working.”
Jumur has been with Others for two months. Her husband was sick and could not work, so she needed help to support their family. “I borrowed money from the Salvation Army church loan program so that I could buy medication for my husband who is now doing much better.” Jumur’s work with Others has allowed her to repay her loan and begin earning money for her family while her husband recovers.
Nipa is 20 years old, married, and has a five–year–old son. Her husband is a garment worker in Dhaka, which requires him to be away from home and pay rent in Dhaka. He is only able to come home every three months for one week at a time.
“When my husband was not employed, we had to take out a loan to survive,” Nipa says. Working with Others has allowed her family to pay off their loan in full. Today, Nipa is better able to care for her son.
“When I am stitching the hearts, I feel great joy in my heart,” she says.
Rozina has been working with Others for 10 years. She has two children. “My husband does not have daily work, so the money I earn helps to cover the education expenses of our children,” she says.
“I make floor mats, shoe bags, hearts, and coasters.”
She was able to purchase a cow with the money she earned from Others. That cow birthed three calves. Rozina sold one calf and made a better cow shed. Because of Others, she now enjoys a better position in her family. “I am respected and am making a contribution for our future.”
Ruma has two children and has been working with Others for four years.
“Before Others, I was not working and could not help to provide for my family,” she says. “It was a great stress on our family when I had to depend on my husband for all our basic needs.”
Today, Ruma is gainfully employed as an Others producer. “I am very proud to be able to create products like the embroidered hearts. The income that I earn gives me confidence and allows me to support my children. I am proud to be part of Others.”
Shalvinuiz is 28 years old. Her daughter lived with a relative because Shalvinuiz was unable to support her. “I saw her every three months and this caused me a lot of pain when we were separated,” Shalvinuiz says.
“I have completed the two–year training with The Salvation Army. I am now able to work as hard as I can and save enough money to care for my child and be together all the time. Please pray for me that I can accomplish this desire of my heart.”
Shib used to be a driver, until a road accident injured his spine. “I became permanently disabled. It is difficult for me to walk and to speak clearly. The Salvation Army corps officer in my community came to visit me, and began looking for ways that he could assist me.”
As the primary bread-
winner in his family, Shib desperately needed a job. “I was good at tailoring before the accident, so when the Others group in Sankerpur began making the hearts, I was asked to sew them.”
Shib has his own machine and can work from home. “I am very proud that I can still be productive despite my disabilities. Others has given me that chance.”
by Warren L. Maye