Volume 2 Issue 26 | January 19, 2008 |


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From Bogra

Sabina Moving Forward

In the year 1995, Sabina Yasmin's home was made out of clay. She and her husband used to live in only two rooms with their two children. As she kept on working and practicing her craft, her rooms used to fill up with fabric paints, clothes and wooden blocks. Her husband was unemployed and their living situation was worsening day by day. They didn't even earn enough to pay for bare necessities. She had started her business with only 800 taka capital that she gained from selling her only precious possession: a ring. She started with only 800 taka, but she also started with infinite determination. She roamed shops and marketplaces with her husband, trying to make as many sales as possible to retailers. But her style is already out of fashion, people hardly buy such screen prints, embossed designs or traditional block prints. Her business progressed at the speed of a turtle, too slow for her family's survival. The earnings were too little to meet family expenses such as the rent of her house. Neighbours would constantly look down on them, as if poverty was a disease and they should be quarantined.

When all hope seemed to be lost, Sabina's husband heard about Bongo Block Batik training centre in Calcutta. Sabina and her husband decided to give their lives one last shot and somehow managed to raise 30 thousand taka for travel and training expenses. Consequently, a new struggle for survival begins for Sabina's family.

The years pass and in 2007, Sabina is now living a completely different life. She is solvent. She is not crippled by the grip of poverty anymore. She is now a trainer. She has provided the training she received to many men and women of various ages, sometimes for free and sometimes for a minimum fee. Over time, her skills have shown signs of specialization. Her work is now professional. She is a master at using the right colours and techniques in creating new and stylish designs on clothes. Sometimes she experiments and creates new styles. So far, she has provided training and advice to over 5000 people. Many people give orders according to their needs, and Sabina creates exactly what her customers want. Her business is stable now, with steady sales all year round. Seasonal slumps in sales is almost absent in her current endeavour, one she has named Rong Mela.

She can apply block, batik, screen print, embossing, multi-dye and ordinary dye in almost all kinds of materials. Her room is still full of camera-boxes or screens used for screen-printing. Alongside Bogra, her products are being sold in Chittagong, Sirajganj, Bagerhat, Rangpur and Dinajpur. Many retailers now carry products made by Sabina and she is happy that her craft has been able to help others as well as her own family.

She lives in a brick-laid house with a tin roof now, and is living a solvent life. She is being able to feed her children well, and is earning enough to even handover some money to her husband after paying all expenses. She is an ideal model of a self-sufficient woman. In Eid-ul-fitr of the year 2007, she worked on 1000 Panjabis and earned 98 thousand taka! On top of that, she has also worked on orders for Sari, Salowar Kameez and other forms of clothing, earning another additional 50 thousand taka.

Sabina says, “the colours in my creations will never fade, I can guarantee that 100%. I never compromise with the quality of my work.”

She has dreamed of many things in her life, and even though not all could be realized, she is happy that she could make a difference in her life and in the lives of the ones she loved. Her only dream now is to see her “Rong Mela” grow more and more. She intends to transform it into a big factory that would employ many workers. She is more than happy to offer free counselling and advising regarding the use of fabric colours and techniques. Sabina is a successful woman, both financially and personally. She has net savings of about 2.5 lakh taka (250 thousand taka), and earns around 1.5 lakh taka (150 thousand taka) per year. She intends to unite her trainees and help them get involved commercially so that unemployment can be reduced. She believes that both men and women can be specialized in this field of work.

Sabina knows that financial security is a prerequisite for self-image and confidence. Her home is now free of poverty and hunger. Her neighbours now stare at her with jealous eyes. All Sabina wants to do is to keep going forward as a beacon of hope and success, lighting the way ahead.


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