More than just needlework, imbued in each design of coloured thread, embroidery, and skillful stitching, are the emotions, memories, and dreams of the artisan
Almost 6,000 people of two villages in Sadullapur upazila, Gaibandha are making their lives better crafting embroidered hand fans which is helping them break free from poverty.
Eleven kilometers west of Gaibandha city, villagers of Araji-Chhandiapur, and Bujruk-Rasulpur villages in the upazila are busy making these embroidered hand fans and earning a profit from their craft.
From grandparents to children, people of all ages are involved in the process: some separate threads, some shape bamboo branches, while some knit the embroidery with geometric shapes.
More than just needlework, imbued in each design of coloured thread, embroidery, and skillful stitching, are the emotions, memories, and dreams of the artisan.
According to the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industry Corporation (BSCIC), Gaibandha branch, almost 6,000 people in these two villages were struggling day labourers in acute poverty. But once they undertook this endeavour they were soon able to become self reliant proprietors and masters of their own fate.
Locals said they used to make these hand fans for personal use in their homes but when they started to commercialize the craft they got a good response. Ever since, more and more villagers have been getting involved in the process.
They have no organized commercialization process but the locally handled endeavor supported them well.
Each craftsman can make 5 to 6 hand fans a day. With a production cost of Tk20 each, they sell for Tk25-30 each, rendering a profit of Tk5-10 on each fan. Moreover the hereditary practice and the ease of production made it a more reliable source of income.
Wholesalers from Dhaka, Narayanganj, and Rangpur usually buy these hand fans from the villagers directly and supply them all over the country.
50 year old Asir Uddin of Chhandiapur said he used to be a farmer before he became a craftsman. He was unable to pay his bills earlier but now he earns at least Tk8000 each month from the hand fans and he can run his family expenses.
Ayna Begum, 45, of the same village said she used to be a domestic help and ion her craft she became self reliant.
Another villager, Mokhlesh Bepari said the demand for hand fans is only high in the summer, but they face difficulties selling them in winter and most of them sit idle during the season.
Some of them stock these hand fans in winter and sell them in the summer.
"Most craftsmen of this region are poor and it is hard for them to start a business. So it would have been better for them if they could manage to get government provided loans with minimal interest."
Jamalpur Union Parishad Chairman Nurujjaman Mandal assured that the upazila authorities are trying their best to encourage the craftsmen.
Assistant Director General of the BSCIC local office, Md Jonayed, said: "Upon realizing the promising future and outcome of the craft, we are planning to give loans to these villagers so that they can easily commercialize the hand fans and earn more."