The winter is coming to an end in NW Bangladesh, and we are able to purchase and dry bamboo in the open sun for the next 2 months. The photo shows a total of 80 bamboos arriving by 3-wheeler at our rural pre-processing centre. We employ local people in this remote village giving them much needed jobs and skills.
Workers Association Elections
Today we are holding our Workers Welfare Association elections. A team of 5 members of our production team will be elected to represent the production workers interests. Our management team will meet with the elected members once each month, acting on their ideas and listening to any concerns they might have. This is a key part of our commitment to Fair Trade
Vast rice fields of Bangladesh
Its rice planting season in NW Bangladesh. Our production unit is located in a remote industrial zone in Nilphamari District, Bangladesh, and is surrounded by rice fields. Most local people in this area eat rice for 3 meals each day. Early in the morning the farmers are out in the fields, bending and planting the rice plants each one by hand. Ground water is pumped out to irrigate – the combination of green plants and water makes for beautiful scenery.
Mental Health Training
We held the first of 15 training sessions on Mental Health in partnership with the LAMB Project a local NGO serving the most vulnerable communities in North West Bangladesh, with integrated health care. The session led by two of LAMB’s professional training staff covered the subject of Self Care and Self Esteem. The feedback from our staff of 100 was overwhelmingly positive, and we are looking forward to future sessions.
Fire Safety Training
Health and Safety in the workplace is of high importance to our team. We were privileged to have our local Fire Service training team on site for two days, leading us through in-depth Fire Safety training. Subjects included the causes of fire, fire prevention, maintenance and use of portable fire extinguishers, and basic treatment of injuries. The enthusiasm of our local fire brigade was infectious, and the team thoroughly enjoyed the training sessions, and our workplace is safer as a result of this. There continues to be very little evidence of Covid in our community here.
We are now entering our Bamboo harvesting season. We love our local Bamboo (or Baash) as the locals call it. We are affectionately known locally as “Baash company” or the Bamboo company. We do of course use a range of natural materials, but local Bamboo is one of our favourites. The variety we use is known Bambusa nutans, and it is available in abundance in small homesteads across North West Bangladesh. Over the years we have developed our expertise in sourcing from known local small farmers, and in doing so helped to provide additional family income for them
The impact of Covid 19 on our rural community in North West Bangladesh seems very limited at the current time. We are of course not medical experts, take nothing for granted, and have implemented best practice procedures in our workplace, but it does seem as though there is a natural resilience to this horrible pandemic in our community.
Once a year, in the cooler season, the staff team of Oasis Transformation Ltd go on a picnic along with their families. It’s always an event that everyone looks forward to with excitement and anticipation! Usually, a theme park in the vicinity of the factory is the venue for the picnic. A picnic is a time for people to dress up, forget about work and the stresses of life and let their hair down! Everyone boards the rented buses in the morning. A hired catering team join the party with large pots, pans, utensils and raw ingredients (which are loaded on the roof of the bus) and amidst, clapping, singing and much laughter, everyone sets off in their colourful finery! A pre-prepared spot at the venue is made ready with a tent, a little ‘cottage’, open fires on which to cook and large speakers to blast Bollywood music from…and the fun begins.
The first thing on the agenda is a delicious cooked breakfast already prepared by the caterers. This is followed by perhaps a game of football or cricket. There is some downtime after this for families and friends to explore the theme park and enjoy it’s attractions followed by a delicious lunch consisting of flavoured rice, lentils, chicken, fish and vegetables, all served fresh and hot on proper plates at tables set up for the occasion! One of the most beautiful things about the picnic is that the factory floor team, the cleaning team and guards along with their families are served at table by the leadership team of the business. None of the latter eat until everyone else is looked after. It is an opportunity to say a little thank you to those who work extremely hard and create the engine of the business – they are the people who embody both it’s energy and purpose.
The afternoon has a session of games and then a talent show and a raffle draw. The talent show is another highlight because we are never disappointed by what’s on offer and staggered by the poetic, dance and musical talent of some of our team! There is much wit and humour on display and it really is a joy to witness it being exhibited without inhibition! Towards the end of the picnic, to the accompaniment of loud Bengali and Bollywood music, most people dance together. When you watch every level of the company team dance together, women comfortable enough to dance alongside their male team mates, the able bodied folks dancing with those who might be differently abled, it is a celebration of what we share in common – our humanity… and our differences of nationality, creed, gender and ability vanish and all seems well with the world.
Ensuring good communication
Every month we have a ‘townhall meeting’ with our staff including those who are located in a remote village. During these meetings we share important business information ranging from sales to our Fair Trade practices.
At Oasis we value good communication which build trust amongst staff in the workplace and ensure all those employed, even in the villages, get a chance to contribute.
What our employees say…
We think it is important to hear from those who work with us and make our products. Without their work, nothing would happen and without our customers, their would be no work. At Oasis Coffins, we seek to ensure that all our customers get quality care and attention and in doing so are able to offer quality employment in an area of Bangladesh where it is crucially needed.
With Fair Trade Fortnight in the UK and International Women’s Day upon us, we have asked a few of our employees what their job means to them.
“The good relationships at Oasis create a safe environment for us women. We trust the men that we work with and the men we report to. We know we are in safe hands.”
“I feel safe working at Oasis because I know where the emergency exits are and how to respond during a fire. The monthly safety drills are very helpful.” – Rokeya, a female production staff at Oasis
“Oasis is a good employer because I am able to trust the people in the office. Trust is very important.” – Joya, one of our female production staff members