I heard this story on the news, a fleeting story, thousands dead but on to the millionaire footballer who bit someone’s arm. The thing is, it’s not just Bangladesh and places at seem so far away.
Let me tell you about my friend, her little girl is in the same class as Timmy, aged 8. At 6:30am my friend leaves her house before her little girl has woken up, she doesn’t even know what time she wakes up. She walks the journey to work and arrives at the bright orange factory amongst a throng of hundreds of other women. If she is ill she cannot phone in sick, if her daughter is ill she cannot phone in sick… If she doesn’t turn up she is told someone else will take her place, her job. That is true. She sits in a big room making designer dresses, cutting the luxurious fabric, hand sewing the sequins on a prom dress that may be worn once, stitching together the pieces of the Valentino dress. She will be there until 4pm, in rooms without heating or air conditioning with temperatures up the high forties, stuffed together and told to work. There is a lunch break of thirty minutes, no cigarette breaks or toilet breaks, just work and get on with it.
After placing the stunningly beautiful gown into a protective plastic cover to show its value it’s price tag is added. The figure is in the thousands of Euros.
My stunningly beautiful friend will work all week these hours, six days a week 49 weeks a year (you may have a holiday in August) for a few thousand leke… Sounds a lot until the exchange rate hits you at less than £80.
She takes the money back to the home she lives in, shared by her mother and father in law. She gives them her pay cheque, it is not money for her, if she wants something she must ask and reason.
She picks up her daughter from school and we walk home together, she wants to walk slowly to make the most of this time she has before she gets to the house and has to start all the chores to care for her in laws and their house as is her duty. Ten minutes after we got home last week she was outside with a shovel clearing a lorry load of soil. It was her job to clear it after her day at work.
She is a Christian but she is not allowed to go to church, she is not allowed a bible and when she has been given one they have been ripped up in front of her, she is told she may not have a bible.
She thanks God for her work, her job. She thinks she is blessed.
So does my other friend a widow with two little boys, so do my neighbours who see their children for a couple of hours after work in between all the housework that they have to do because they are women.
It’s not just Bangladesh and cheap clothing, it’s right here on my doorstep and yours but who cares?