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6th December 2014

UK wholesalers visit the Sundarbans

It’s great when Pebble wholesalers come to Bangladesh to see us and go out to visit the rural centres.    It helps them to understand how important the work is and how vital they are in their role marketing and selling the products.   It also helps them to understand some of the challenges we face in working in these remote and rural areas, of working with women who have never before done any type of formal work and of some of the things that can go wrong and are completely our of our control.

liz and gaynor in BD

Image:   Liz (on the left) and Gaynor (on the right) visiting Bangladesh

This is the third time that Liz and Gaynor have visited Bangladesh and we know that they love to come.   Each time we’ve taken them to a different part of the country and this time was no exception.   They flew all the way down to Jessore in the South and before visiting any rural centres they were able to tour the Sundarbans – the biggest mangrove forest in the world.

liz and gaynor in sundarbans

Image:  Liz and Gaynor with Rayhan, Executive Director of Hathay Bunano, sailing into the Sundarbans

You can only get into the Sundarbans by boat but once inside there is a whole host of widelife – different birds and monkeys and, of course, the Royal Bengal tiger.   Liz and Gaynor didn’t see any tigers but they did see lots of other wildlife.

BY visit 1

Image:  Gaynor on the back of a motorbike out to visit the rural production and training centres

BY visit

Image:  Liz on the back of a motorbike going to see the rural production and training centres

The centres that we have set up in the Sundarbans in Joint Venture with USAID facilitated by Winrock International are remote and difficult to reach.   Motorbike is the best way  to get there and I think, a lot of fun, for Liz and Gaynor.

BY in the sundarbans centre

Image:   Liz with the artisans of one of the Sundarbans centres

And this was the point of it all.   To meet the new artisans who have just recentlly completely their training and to talk to them about what the work opportunity means to them and what the products mean to the customers who buy them.  Its a great exchange.  The artisans are delighted to know that products they make are selling all over the world and this encourages them and gives them pride in their work.    Liz and Gaynor get to see first hand how important this work is to the whole community and how we all need to work together to make this venture work.   When you are sitting comfortably in a developed country its easy to talk about ethical sourcing and fair trade and feel that you are committed to it but when you meet and talk to the artisans who are directly affected by this work, then you understand that it is much more than ethical sourcing and buzz words.   Creating economic opportunity really truly changes lives.

liz in sundarbans

Image:   Liz and Rayhan on the boat

A thoughtful journey back out of the Sundarbans after a fabulous trip for all.



Just a week after this visit and writing this post there has been a devastating oil spill in the Sundarbans area.   The clean up has started but so many animals have already perished and there is no coordinated clean up in process as yet.    We hope that the clean up will be prompt and thorough because the lives of so many people depend on this forest.


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