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Christian Aid appeal for Christmas

kakoli khatunkhaleda begum

In Bangladesh, the Bengali word for Christmas is Borodin – or 'the big day'.


Decorations are hung, all kinds of tasty treats are made and there's plenty of singing.


Not so different from how we celebrate Christmas in the UK.


But the rest of life is different – especially for the women and girls of Bangladesh.


The country is one of the world's most densely-populated. It is low-lying, on a delta of rivers which empty into the Bay of Bengal, and vulnerable to flooding and cyclones.


In one of the most disaster-prone areas, Kurigram, in the north, life is challenging. The people who live there have done little to contribute to the climate crisis and yet are among those hardest hit by its effects.


But there is hope.


The district is home to an extraordinary group of artisans and entrepreneurs who are embracing new technology to revive traditional crafts such as beadwork, quilting, and making colourful clothing to sell online.


"I didn't have any dreams a few years ago. Now I am in the first year of my degree course. Girls in my locality need education. If they get married at an early age they don't understand the value of education."


Twenty-one-year-old Kakoli Khatun is from Kurigram.


In her local area, most people are dependent on farming which can be heavily affected by annual floods. In her community, there is little scope for women and girls to stay in education, with most girls married under the age of 18.


Kakoli wants a different path – to expand her new Nakshi kantha business, making embroidered quilts using a centuries-old Bengali€art tradition, to support her parents and other families in the community.


Khaleda Begum is from the same area; she was married at an early age and said she cannot describe her suffering.


She decided to do something for herself and learned to do beadwork.


"From 10am to 12pm when I do my beadwork it's my favourite part of the day."


She describes her daughters as 'my favourite people in the whole world' and says: "I want my children to be educated."


With a little help, women like Kakoli and Khaleda are transforming their lives and looking forward to bright futures.


Thanks to supporters throughout the UK, Christian Aid's partner, Aid Comilla, has provided training, equipment and funds. They work with women who then bring others on board to start their own enterprises. Training and mentoring are available on everything from gender rights to E-commerce; funds are provided for equipment such as smart phones; and internet access points have been installed to connect this remote area to new global markets.


This year, Christian Aid's Christmas Appeal is about small changes which can make a big difference, it's about helping women and girls find what they need, be that skills, tools or funding, to earn a living and break free from poverty.


More than 5,800 women have been given a chance to shine in Kurigram.


Kakoli added: "Now we've had this training, we feel confident and successful."


This Christmas, why not join us in helping more people use their talents to open up a world of choices.


Every prayer, every gift, every action helps transforms lives: £1 could provide two Wi-Fi cards, so women can access online platforms to sell their products from their phone; £23 could provide funds to help one person to start up a small business; and £100 could provide training for five women on e-commerce to introduce them to online business platforms, enhance their knowledge of the digital market, and make effective use of their smartphones.


How can you help? Why not light up your church and community with a carol concert or street carolling?


Everything you need to create some festive fun is on our website, including a guide to permissions, a flyer with ideas, carol sheets and sheet music for our Christian Aid song When Out of Poverty is Born.


You can also sign up to our Digital Advent Wreath to receive four reflective films for each Sunday of Advent here: caid.org.uk/advent.


Visit www.christianaid.org.uk and click on Appeals to find out more.

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