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     Volume 2 Issue 1 | January 6, 2007 |


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From Sirajganj
The Story of Kochi

Golam Mostafa Jibon

There are very few people in our society who struggle and overcome the difficulties of life, strive for a better lifestyle and actually make it happen. This is the story of a person who has managed to make a better life for herself and her family through hard work and absolute determination. A person who was once a poverty-stricken housewife some 12 years ago is now a self-reliant individual who made it all happen by running a handicraft factory. Not only did she change her own life completely, she has also helped to change the lives of numerous women and young girls suffering from poverty.

Nilufa Jamal Kochi, aged 46, was married at the age of thirteen to Shahzamal Sarker of Masumpur Notun Para village in Sirajganj town. After marriage, she hed to lead an extremely poverty-stricken life as her husband was unemployed at the time. Their days passed with no food to eat for days at a stretch. It was at that point in time that she felt the need to do something for her family. She began to think of ways to start some sources of income which would provide for her family. She was inspired by her father to start a handicraft factory and took the initiative to set the factory up at her own home in Masumpur Notun Para. Today, she has a source of income of herself by running the handicraft factory. Her hard work has finally brought happiness to her and her family.

Kochi was awarded by several organizations for working on women's development. At present, seventy five distressed women, most of whom are divorcees, widows or students are working in Kochi's handicrafts factory. These women earn about Tk.2000 every month by working at the factory. Even their leisure time is now beneficial because of their work in the factory. Kochi had taken a training from a local youth development centre run by the government.

She learned block printing, boutique handicrafts and how to design clothes. After completion of her training, she got a sewing machine as a gift from her poor father, late Golam Nabi and started to make handicraft products in 1994. With the assistance of her husband, she started to sell her products in local markets of her home district and some neighboring districts. Within a short time, her products got popularity in the markets and soon sales increased so that profit increased.

In order to utilize the profit properly, Kochi bought six more sewing machines and appointed some more women to take training from her on several methods of making handicrafts. At present Kochi earns around Tk. 10,000 to Tk. 12,000 per month. Her family is no longer suffering from poverty and the education of her children has been ensured. With her income, she has also established a shop for clothing material at New Market in the town recently. The shop is run by her husband Shahzamal. This has provided her previously unemployed husband with employment. Her son Parvez Kawsar Bappi and daughter Sharmin Ferdous Shathi have joined in jobs after completion of their higher education.

“The establishment of a factory by a woman was initially unimaginable and extremely difficult in a society like ours but I have succeeded in setting up an example of achievement here. Now, my effort has created confidence among many other women to do something on their own”, says Kochi. Women like Jharna, 35, Hasna, 25, Mazeda, 28, Nazma, 22, Hazara, 25, Rekha, 30, Rowshonara, 36, Mitu, 20, Shilpi, 23, Shitu, 24, Fuara, 26, Poli, 33, and Rozi, 26, among many others work at Kochi's workshop.

Some of them admit what extreme crisis they had been faced with before meeting their Kochi Apa. Once they joined the workshop, they have found a ray of hope and have been living happily with their heads held high.


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