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28th January 2015

Bernadette visited Cox’s Bazar

We were so happy to have Bernadette Dawson with us from Australia this week.   For more than 5 years Bernadette has been the Pebble distributor in Australia where she also runs her lovely shop.    But this is the first time that she has visited us in Bangladesh and gone out to meet the women working.

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Image:   Bernadette at a centre in Cox’s Bazar

There is some disruption at the moment in Bangladesh stemming from the political situation and as such it is not always safe to travel by road.   So we took Bernadette on a plane to Cox’s Bazar and showed her all the new centres there.   These are very new centres for us.   We started working there on 15th December 2014 on a joint venture with Winrock International by training 150 women.    Those women who started training on 15th December received their first work order for production work for Pebble on the 20th January 2015 and so there was a lot of excitement in those centres at the prospect of starting production work.


Image:  it’s always very exciting when women first start to make production items.

We then started training for 150 more women on 21st January 2015 and if all goes to plan these will have their first production work towards the end of February.


Image:   you can see how these women are learning how to make a variety of items during the training period

Cox’s Bazar district has a lot of forest area and a very high proportion of people who are very poor and therefore dependent on the forest for their livelihoods.   In general they will chop down trees every day as well as killing the wild animals, in order to sell them to the local market and try to make a little money to live on.   As such there is an imbalance in the environmental situation – but its difficult to teach people about the environment when they are very poor and need the forest for their small income.   As such it was necessary to try to introduce alternative livelihood opportunities to this area.   It was for this reason that the Climate Resiliance, Environment and Livelihoods (CREL) project funded by USAID and implemented by Winrock International took on the challenge of finding alternative livelihoods for these women and asked Pebble to partner with them.


Image;  Bernadette is listening to the women tell the stories of their lives.

So the creation of employment for these 300 women is not just about reducing poverty and creating an opportunity for very poor women to each a decent and dignified living but it is also about protecting and preserving the environment, in particular the forest.   We really believe that this project is a win for the environment, a win for the women of Coxs Bazar, and a win for Pebble and CREL.    We’re really happy to be working in such a positive way to improve people’s lives and protect the environment.


Image;   for Pebble it’s all about creating employment in areas with no opportunity but in Cox’s Bazar there is the advantage of protecting the environment as well.

Bernadette was very happy to see all this work and to see the women learning to crochet and others working to produce products for Pebble and we are really excited about her taking all these stories and experiences with her back to Australia to share with all her customers.

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Image;   wherever you go in rural Bangladesh, there’s always a little baby to cuddle


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