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Economic Development Unit's Rug project featured in the Daily Star newspaper
August 24, 2010
A small initivative bringsbig change to their lot Women of erosion-hit families make exportable doormats from garment waste:

They no longer stand in queues for relief. They are standing on their own feet as well as getting honour as decision-maker in the family.

These women members of erosion victim families on Teesta basin areas in Dimla upazila of Nilphamari district make exportable doormats using reject garments cut pieces, thanks to the initiative for livelihood training by Care Bangladesh.

About four thousand families living in several chars (landmass emerged from river) in Teesta basin areas of the district often become homeless by river erosion during the rainy season. That time they usually take shelter on embankments and lead a very miserable life.

Under a programme styled 'Souhardo', NGO Care Bangladesh arranged three-month-long skill development programmes that include weaving doormats using reject garments cut pieces with the help of simple local tools made of bamboo and wood.

Aiming at providing modest livelihood facilities to the women of erosion victim families, 'Souhardo' project started in 2004.

After the project ended in June this year, Care Bangladesh arranged continuation of the programme.

Two years ago, a Rangpur-based private entrepreneur (wants not to be named) with the logistic support of Care Bangladesh set up a doormat-producing factory at Dalia village near the Teesta barrage in Khalisha Chapani union under Dimla upazila.

Following success within a short time, they set up three other factories in the district.

Visiting the factory at Dalia village on Wednesday, this correspondent found rural women weaving doormats in a simple tin shed house with earthen floor in a happy mood.

The multi coloured doormats produced in the factories have already attracted several European buyers, especially from Germany. Every week, truckloads of doormats from the four factories are transported to the capital for export to Germany.

Once extremely poor, one hundred women working in four factories have changed their lot.

"We had 15 bighas of land. But we became beggars overnight as Teesta devoured them. We had to pass days half-fed and even unfed," said Ayesha Begum, 40, wife of Siraj Ali of Chhoto Khata village.

“After receiving training, 25 women including me are making doormats at the factory in Dalia and earning good wage. My two children go to school now," said Ayesha, mother of four children.

Bilkis Banu, wife of Shafiqul Islam of Dalia village said she has bought a small piece of land for making house with her income from working in the factory.

Several women including Anwara, Rubina, Lovely, Suraiya, Sabina and Rozina said they can now play vital role in making family decisions and get honour from husbands.

A worker gets Tk 10 as wage for making a 90-centimetre-long doormat.

By making 20-25 doormats a day, they can earn Tk 200-250 daily.

The private company regularly exports doormats to Germany and each doormat sells there for 5-6 dollar.

"Since 2004, more than six thousand beneficiaries were provided training in Dimla on different trades including doormat making," said Mofizul Islam, programme officer of Care Bangladesh.

"We provided training to beneficiaries and persuaded a local private entrepreneur to set up doormat making factories. They are getting good profit by exporting doormats abroad,” said Nazmun Laila, field facilitator of Care.

Doormat making can help bring solvency to much larger number of poor people in rural areas if more entrepreneurs come forward with the initiative, said a Care offcial.

"I shall do everything to promote such initiative,” said Dimla UNO Mizanur Rahman.

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