Last month we introduced a new monthly series focused on sharing with greater depth the ministries of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. This month we take a deeper look at the Prottasha Sewing Sheba Kunjo (Service Space) in Kulaura, Bangladesh, and how it is producing fruit not only in Bangladesh but also for sisters living at Saint Mary’s Convent. This training and empowerment ministry started in 2006, offering sewing training to young women who have had to drop out of school due to family obligations or other struggles.
The Sisters of the Holy Cross began ministering in Bangladesh more than 165 years ago. Kulaura, located in rural northeast Bangladesh, has had Holy Cross sisters present since 1981 as sisters journeyed with villagers to tea plantations by offering pastoral and educational ministry. The people of Kulaura earn less than $1 per day on average and many suffer from malnutrition due to extreme poverty.
Prottasha means “hope” in the Bengali language and this is exactly what the training ministry provides the young women. Women learn how to make and mend clothing and other items that can then be sold at market, allowing them to earn an income to support their families. This work enables women to see their own dignity as children of God. Between 2006 and 2018, more than 150 women were trained with the center that serves approximately 30 women per year. A new building would enable many more women to receive this life-changing training.
The sewing center developed plans to expand the ministry and construct a new three-story facility. The sisters’ prayers to complete this ministry expansion came to life when they received a grant from the 8xmille Fund of the Italian Catholic Church*, to begin construction on a new three-story building.
Construction is underway and should be completed in the coming months. The new facility will provide space for sewing and cutting classrooms, a small kitchen area, storage and even bedrooms for up to 15 young women to stay while receiving training. For many women, traveling to the center is nearly impossible given the high hills and rugged terrain; having lodging will make the training a reality for many who could not have come regularly without housing.
Holy Cross School, also administered by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, is next door and many of the women’s children attend school while the mothers are receiving their own education.
This grant, along with donor support to our Ministry With the Poor Fund, is another boost to the good works at the sewing center.
Prottasha gives back to sisters
Recently Dawn Tyler, director of Resident Services, shared with the Development Office a need to have blouse protectors made for sisters to protect their clothing from food spills. The office asked if they could have a sample wondering if this would be something the Prottasha Sewing Sheba Kunjo (Service Space) could produce. Within a few short months, more than 40 blouse protectors arrived back at Saint Mary’s after being made by young women receiving training. Sisters at Saint Mary’s Convent were thrilled and there are 155 more blouse protectors currently being produced for the sisters.
Sister Promila Gomes, CSC, director of the Prottasha Sewing Sheba Kunjo (Service Space), was very happy to help the sisters at Saint Mary’s have dedicated their lives to serving God’s people. Sister M. Rose Edward (Goodrow), CSC, director of Development was thrilled to forge this deepened relationship between the ministry in Bangladesh and sisters at Saint Mary’s.
The Prottasha Sewing Sheba Kunjo (Service Space) hopes to celebrate the completion of the new building by the end of 2019. As the ministry grows into its new home, it will be seeking to add needed materials and equipment, including sewing machines. Should you wish to help make these things happen, you may donate online. In “my gift is for,” choose “other” and type “Prottasha Sewing Kunjo (Service Space)” in the box that appears below the drop-down.
The growth of the ministry has only been possible thanks to many who, through their financial support, have co-ministered with the sisters in Bangladesh.
“We extend our sincere gratitude to our generous friends who have long made it possible to bring changes to the many lives of those who come to us, sharing God’s love with all we encounter,” said Sister Promila.
*The name of the charitable grant-making fund of the Italian Bishops Conference.