Depending on their design, each of their handmade bags cost between Tk2.8 to Tk13
In a world where plastic has polluted every sphere of our lives by its toxic, and non biodegradable properties, reusable bags may very well save the planet, and some lives as well.
More than a hundred disadvantaged rural women in the Satkhira district have been earning, and supporting their families by stitching handmade reusable shopping bags.
The organization behind the success of these women is called “Prerona Cooperative Samity” in Kaliganj upazila.
Prerona has been running this program, under which they trained women to make bags since 2015. It was aimed at creating local employment opportunities, which in turn benefits people’s lives, the country’s economy, and the planet.
The women working for Prerona are allowed to work from home, and that is what allows them to take advantage of this opportunity.
This correspondent visited these women, and asked them about their stories.
Rehana Parveen, while working, said: “I lost my ability to work outside due to an injury after a road accident six years ago. My husband divorced me three years back. ‘Prerona’ has allowed me to work, and live with dignity.”
School-girl Mohima Parveen, another member of the cooperative said: “My parents weren’t well-off to bear my educational expenses. But now, I am working with ‘Prerona’, and earning money to pay for my own school fees as well as contribute to my family’s expenses.”
Sitting right beside her, Nasima Khatun, said: “My husband couldn’t afford the family’s expenses alone. Now I am also earning by making the shopping bags, and that makes the difference for us to avoid extreme poverty.”
Manjuar Rahman of Rahimpur, a neighbouring union, said he was there to buy bag-making raw materials, for the women in his family, who were busy stitching bags back home.
Shampa Goshwami, a school teacher, started ‘Prerona’, in order to change the lives of underprivileged women.
She said the women make the bags after getting order from shops in Satkhira district.
If the government, or an NGO, or even private donors would support them, Shwampa believes they have every potential to scale up production.
She said that most of the local shops purchase ‘Prerona’ shopping bags, and they sell between 1.5 to 2 lakh bags per month.
Depending on their design, each of their handmade bags cost between Tk2.8 to Tk13.
Prerona supplies bags to more than 30 business establishments in their area, including Lake View, Vaggokul, Al-Baraka, Prio Gopal, Mawa Chinese, Nusrat Fashion, Jayhun, Adi Ghosh, and Sagor Sweets, Shwampa added.
Kaliganj upazila Women’s Affairs Officer Sharmin Akhter said, “Prerona is a voluntary women-led women’s development organization. Its work has been helping underprivileged women improve their lot in life, and also to save the planet!”