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Employment in the Asha embroidery workshop

 

The embroidery workshop started end of April 2008 in a small apartment in a poor district of Dhaka. At first ASHA employed eight young women. In the meantime this number has increased to fourteen and the plans are to expand even further. Many new items were added to the product range starting with hand-embroidered tablecloths, placemats, runners, party tents and highly original and personalised gadgets.
Thanks to the Ommersteyn foundation, ASHA has moved to a new workshop in 2009 with many more options for expansion.

 

The latest items are hand-embroidered key rings in various ethnic shapes featuring the client's logo. They are ideal presents for business acquaintances. Other organisations will be selling the key rings as fundraising. This serves a double purpose: the sale will sponsor their own operation and at the same time they will support ASHA's fair trade project. After three years the workshop can already present great financial figures. In December 2008 the break-even point was reached. However ASHA has to continue striving at a financially sound organisation!

 

All workshop embroiderers are living in the Dhaka slums, they were all extremely poor and were lacking the most basic food. Now ASHA guarantees them a salary that is higher than the minimum wages in the textile sector in Bangladesh. On top of that they get a free meal on a daily basis and have access to decent sanitary facilities. ASHA also provides medical expenses for these people and is paying school expenses for a number of children. Even more important is that their daily attendance in the workshop puts an end to their social isolation which is so characteristic of the life of young women in the Bengali Muslim culture.

 

Meanwhile ASHA has a group of enthusiastic collaborators striving at improving the workshop's operation. The punctually paid monthly salary is vital to them since it allows them to provide substantial support for their families. Employment is giving them a sense of self-esteem and for the first time in their life a future and HOPE!

 

 

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