Little Hathi meets Fatema Akter, one of the women who work at one of the Hathay Bunano production centres in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where some of the beautiful hand-made Pebble toys for Little Hathi are bought to life.
Fatema’s life, and that of her family, has changed since she began working for this pioneering community project, so we wanted to find out more.
Can you tell us about your family?
My name is Fatema Akter and I am 24 years old. I have been married to Nizam for eight years, and he is a driver. We have a son who is 7 years old and is studying at the local nursery school, and a daughter who is 4 years old.
What is your home like?
We live in a shared house, about ½ km away from the production centre where I work near Dhaka City in Bangladesh.
There are five families living in the house altogether. We live in one small room and share a kitchen and toilet with the other families.
Can you tell us about your work for Hathay Bunano?
I started working for Hathay Bunano two years ago, to improve our financial situation. It’s difficult in this city for a family to live on one income. My husband works hard but I felt it was a burden for him to be the sole earner in the family.
I have wanted to go to work for a while, but I didn’t have the opportunity until I learnt about Hathay Bunano from a neighbour who worked there. Her lifestyle improved a lot within a few months of starting work and when I saw what she achieved, I knew I’d like to work for Hathay Bunano too.
We can work when it is convenient for us and I can bring my daughter to the pre-school crèche here which is essential, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to work. Since joining Hathay Bunano I’ve learnt to knit; something I saw my mother do when I was young so I have always wanted to learn. I’ve finally been able to learn properly and use my skills professionally.
What are the centres like?
I can honestly say that the Hathay Bunano production centre here is like a family. A big family though, because I can sometimes meet 100 women in a day!
The centre is cool and there’s lots of space which I don’t have at home. It’s a nice environment for my daughter and I.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy my freedom to work here. Some of my neighbours work in a garments factory, and they tell me that there’s a lot of pressure and that the working environment isn’t hygienic.
But here we’re totally free from this type of pressure, and I like this way of working very much.
It’s great to know that my daughter is safe while I work, and I can chat to my friends!
I think Hathay Bunano is the best way for women to earn a respectable wage here.
Do your children go to the crèche facility while you work?
My daughter goes to the preschool here while I’m working, and she’s learning to read and write now. I feel comfortable and secure about leaving her there because the room is in the same building where I am working, so I can see her during the day.
I think it’s a great part of working at Hathay Bunano.
How has your life changed since you began working for Hathay Bunano?
Before I started working, I had to ask my husband if I needed money to buy things, and sometimes he got upset because he didn’t have any to give me.
Now I can earn my own money to buy the things we need. I can happily support my family now; I feel we have more freedom than we did before and I feel much more secure
Now my children are starting their education and I feel happy that they will have a better life.
What are your ambitions while working with HB?
My great ambition is to finish paying off my loan that I had already borrowed from a finance NGO (Non-Government-Organisation).
Then I want to save hard and buy my husband a mini-bus so that he can earn more money for our children’s future.
And what are your hopes for the future?
I hope that my children will be able to go to a good university and I’ve always dreamt that they will do well and become honest and respected citizens in our society.
Now, thanks to my work at Hathay Bunano I can begin my plans to fulfil these future dreams.
Many thanks to Rayhan from the Hathay Bunano Dhaka Production Centre in Bangladesh, for interviewing and translating.