The Short Story of a Giant Woman

Women's Day 2014

I’d like to introduce you to Yeasmin, a short woman standing just a little over three feet in height.  At the age of twelve, after her father died she found temporary lodging at CRP, The Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed. While at CRP, her paths crossed with Hathay Bunano, the makers of Pebble and she began learning from them how to crochet, a welcome addition to the sewing skills she already had.

A woman with disabilities in a male dominated, third world country is rather at the bottom of the totem pole; or so you would think. While CRP is an ideal place for people with disabilities to be rehabilitated with the goal of returning to their communities, it cannot provide long-term care for adults. As Yeasmin approched adulthood, those around her were concerned for her future. Two of her disabled companions at CRP, who were also doing crochet work for Hathay Bunano, were in a similar predicament. Were these three brave young women to be turned out, with no safe place to continue their skills? No! As a matter of fact Hathay Bunano took a bold step and set up a residential room in their complex, where the three ladies could live safely on their own and continue their work. Yeasmin, though short, was quite capable of doing the cooking and shopping and was able to look after Jolly and Shima.

All was well and happy for about a year until their landlord decided that having disabled women living on his property was not good for his reputation. Hathay Bunano tried to stay and fight for the women, until their landlord turned off the gas and deactivated the elevator, making it quite unsafe for disabled women to stay in the building. So everyone had to move to a new building. The day after their move the the new building, the new landlord came round to visit and informed Samantha, the founder of Hathay Bunano, that he didn’t want disabled women in his building. Having moved the entire office to a new complex, it was not practical to turn around and find yet another place to move to. Yet, Hathay Bunano was committed to finding a solution for the women. As it turned out, a place in the village was found, where the three women could live and work in safety. The move was made and the women settled happily into their new lives.

Interestingly instead of being ostricized and ridiculed, Yeasmin found love. She met Hamid, who lived in the area and they fell in love and married. Hamid did not see her as being disabled. He saw the strength and beauty of her soul, her lovely smile and can-do attitude.  Together they had a delightful baby boy and now live near the current Hathay Bunano head office, where Yeasmin continues to work.

It is nearly unheard of for a disabled woman in Bangladesh to get married and have children, let a lone find a meaningful job. Yeasmin  has done what 142,000,000+ people believed she could not do making her in my estimation, a giant of a woman.

Adapted from story written by Samantha Morshed, the co-founder of
Hathay Bunano, the maker of Pebble products.