Bangladesh Artisans

Imagine this: One morning, you arrive at your job to find your workplace destroyed – singed, blackened and falling apart from a massive fire.


When Bombolulu Workshops, based in Kenya, was destroyed in March, the artisans and owners were left wondering what to do next. They worried that their future was in jeopardy. The group quickly rallied – they needed help, and fast. As soon as they could, Bombolulu sent an email to each fair trade organization that purchases products from them. The subject line read, ‘FIRE OUTBREAK AT THE BOMBOLULU WORKSHOPS.’

The fire ripped through the workshop, showroom and their inventory, with total damage estimated at around $200,000 US.


To get back on their feet, they started a campaign called BOMBOLULU: RISE FROM THE ASHES. The campaign marked the beginning of the organization’s next stage – the rebuilding phase. The name was a much-needed symbol of hope after facing such a great loss. As they put it: “The Bombolulu community is determined to rise up from the ashes and move on.”

We are hoping for a speedy recovery for this group. Bombolulu provides many valuable services to their artisans including housing, medical aid, and education opportunities. They specifically work to create a community where Kenyans with disabilities can become economically and socially empowered, with the goal of becoming self-sufficient and fully integrated into society.


Given the extent of this unexpected loss, Bombolulu needed some extra support to rebuild their facilities and offset the loss of so much inventory. It’s in times like these that we are committed, more than ever, to our long-term partnerships with artisan groups. Ten Thousand Villages was able to assist the Bombolulu artisans with money from our Artisan Development Fund. In this case, we were able to send $10,000 to Bombolulu to help them as they assess the damage and wait to receive money from their insurance company.

Ten Thousand Villages in the United States and other fair trade organizations have also been quick to send aid to Bombolulu. They’ve received much support from a truly global community to get through this difficult time.

When we talk about the benefits of fair trade, we always say that it’s about long-term relationships with our artisan parthers. From time to time, crisis relief is part of that relationship, and it’s just one of the many aspects of the movement that often goes unmentioned. And now, beyond this one-time injection of support, the artisans of Bombolulu know they can count on ongoing orders from Ten Thousand Villages and others, so they can get back to work as quickly as possible and keep earning a steady income – even in the wake of disaster.


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