Problems in the Bangladesh textile industry

Large-scale problems

The other day I received an email from someone asking me why Tulsi Crafts works on a small-scale in Bangladesh, when the country has so many large-scale problems. Especially the textile industry of Bangladesh has huge problems, as we’ve seen when a factory collapsed last year causing many deaths and injuries.

It is most definitely important to make changes on this large scale. There is a lot of attention for these changes at the moment, because it has now been a year since the factory collapsed. And many changes are being made already, but Bangladesh is a complicated and highly corrupt country and a culture change takes time. It is not only the textile industry that (dis) functions in this way, the whole country is functioning like this.

Problems on a scale like this can give you a feeling of powerlessness. I remember standing in the middle of big traffic junction in Dhaka, feeling powerless and overwhelmed by the immense problems I saw around me. All these people, the immense poverty, how could that ever turn out right.
Later on I realised that these large-scale problems are an accumulation of smaller problems. And a smaller scale problem is something more comprehensive.

Small-scale changes

This is why I’ve consciously chosen to work on a smaller scale with Tulsi Crafts. Firstly to show what’s possible, I can’t change a whole country, but I can make smaller changes. Small changes inspire, and many small steps together make a big step.

Many beautiful things can be found in the smaller scale, things that you lose when you upscale. A lot of women who make the products for Tulsi Crafts live in the countryside of Bangladesh. They work at home, not in a factory. This means they can balance their home live, taking care of their children and housework, with their craft work. Poverty is an even bigger problem in the countryside then it is in the capital Dhaka. Providing work and income in the countryside means there is less need to move to Dhaka, where millions live in slums and often work in the textile industry.

Selina lives in Dhaka, she works for an organisation Tulsi cooperates with. Before she came to work there, she was forced to work in prostitution, now she makes blankets and scarves. We might not be able to change the world, but we can change Selina’s world.

Read more here about Tulsi Crafts and how we work in Bangladesh.

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