It’s no secret there’s extreme poverty in Bangladesh. And although, according to The World Bank, the number of the country’s poor has decreased by 26 percent in recent years, here’s the harsh reality: there are still approximately 47 million poverty-stricken men, women and children in Bangladesh today.
Women in particular face massive societal and socioeconomic challenges in trying to make a better life for themselves and their children. Because school and well-paying jobs are often unavailable to girls and women, some turn to the sex trade to survive.
But now there’s hope.
Sacred Mark Enterprise, created by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Bangladesh, helps sex trade survivors leave the Red Light district and provide for themselves in a way that brings pride and respect. When they become Sacred Mark employees, the women mix palm and coconut oils with fragrant ingredients such as neem, ginger and lavender to create 100% natural soap. This alternative source of income creates the means for a new life.
Before they begin working, each woman enters an eight-month training program that offers information about health, hygiene, mental health, human rights, peace and literacy. These life skills are invaluable.
Maybe you’ve come across Sacred Mark soap in one of our stores (or check them out online), and know how heavenly they smell. We think so too! You’ve probably also noticed their unique packaging. Each comes sealed with a wax fingerprint. The artisan melts a block of wax over hot coals, takes a seal depicting a human fingerprint, and presses it into the wax. (Sometimes people ask if she uses her own finger. No – that would hurt, and we want her to be safe!)
We love the symbolism behind that fingerprint mark. It emphasizes the uniqueness of each inspirational survivor and her unique life’s journey.
“O let me wear secretly…the sacred mark impressed by Your own hand.”
— Rabindranath Tagore
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