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9th April 2012

Real Men Knit

I’m often asked ‘do you have any male knitters?’ and until recently the answer was always ‘sadly – no’. Hathay Bunano does not discriminate in any way – we encourage people of all backgrounds and cultures and faiths to participate and we work with anyone who comes to us for work without discrimination and indeed without even knowing about anyone’s background. But until recently we had never had any interest from men in our knitting work.

And then in the same week that I viewed the hugely popular Real Men Knit video (here), I also found out that in Jessore we have a man who knits happily along with the rest of his family. Yumi, our Japanese wholesaler, had been out to visit the Jessore centres and had sent pictures back to us on her return and among those pictures was Sofiar, knitting alongside his wife and his daughter. Sofiar hadn’t gone through the usual training process at Hathay Bunano but rather was part of what we call organic growth. Once we’ve trained people for a centre and the centre is up and running it just grows as more and more people from the village see the benefit and learn, in their own time, the skill. The community spirit present in so many of these rural villages means that women who have learnt to knit are always happy to teach their friends and relatives and then once they’ve learnt and been officially ‘passed’ by the supervisor of the area, they start to knit for Hathay Bunano.

Five years ago, Rozina started to work with Hathay Bunano. She attended the first training course in Jessore and was later appointed supervisor for the Jessore centre. Rozina worked hard and diligently and has been putting herself through tertiary education with the money she earns from knitting. She is currently in the 3rd and final year of her honours degree.

After Rozina had been working with Hathay Bunano for some time, her mother, Alea wanted to learn the skill as well. Rozina taught her and soon after Alea started to work with Hathay Bunano and started earning money. Rozina’s father, Sofiar, saw that both his wife and his oldest daughter were earning well and enjoying their work with Hathay Bunano. Sofiar is a farmer but does not have his own land and is therefore what is known as an ‘agricultural day labourer’. This is hard manual work with long hours and low pay and its seasonal and very much weather dependent. Sofiar decided therefore that he should learn this skill and then he would be able to do this type of work when there is no agricultural work and also as he gets older and is less able to do the strenuous agricultural work, he would still be able to knit. Rozina taught her father and last year he started to do production work for Hathay Bunano. In the Jessore centre they make the very popular knitted snake rattles.


Rozina has two younger siblings and these are both in school thanks to the money the family are earning with Hathay Bunano.

Five years ago Sofiar had little hope about life. Whilst he had seen his two elder daughters marry and leave the home, he was getting older and finding the agriculture work increasingly difficult and was worried that he would not be able to educate his younger children. Now that three members of the family are knitting with Hathay Bunano they feel very positive about the future. Rozina will graduate at the end of the year and Sofiar feels confident that both his younger children will be able to continue through to tertiary education as well.

Knitting has clearly worked for Sofiar and he’s happy to see the progress his whole family have been able to make through this skill. We are delighted to see a man knitting at Hathay Bunano.

Real men really do knit!

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