Pebble toys are made in Bangladesh by a workers co-operative which provides fairly paid and flexible jobs to women in rural locations. Living in rural Bangladesh is very hard but the working conditions there are much better than those in the sweatshops of the country’s capital, Dhaka.
Workers supplement their income by working for Pebble for as little or as much time as they want. This means they take a big step away from poverty without having to compromise on their other commitments.
Pre-schools have been set up for the children of Pebble workers
The other positive thing is that making these toys is very inclusive. Kids and their grandparents congregate in the same place as the ladies work, and pre-schools have been set up for the children of Pebble workers, funded by Pebble’s UK distributor, Best Years. Samantha Morshed, Pebble’s founder and CEO, describes visiting one of these schools in The Sundarbans, a forested region in the south-west of the country…
“The concept of a preschool was entirely new to the people of this area. Traditionally in Bangladesh children do not go to school until they are six years old, and children who are younger tend to just run around the village unsupervised. Whilst the thought that little ones can be completely free to run around is nice on the one hand, on the other hand, drowning is the single biggest killer of under-5s in Bangladesh.”
There are currently around 1,450 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.
“Bangladesh is a delta region and as well as three huge rivers running through it to the Bay of Bengal, there are many thousands of smaller rivers and tributaries, as well as lakes and ponds.”
“So creating pre-schools alongside our rural production centres is not just about educating children and giving them a good start, it is also about keeping them safe while their mothers are working.”
“The children are all now aware of the routine and happily attend every day. There is no curriculum for pre-schools in Bangladesh, but we have put together a basic curriculum that works.”
“The children learn both English and Bangla letters. Whilst Bangla – also known as Bengali – is the primary language, it is generally accepted that English is very useful if you want to get a job in the city or go to university.”
“It’s really a joy to see this pre-school thriving, and the children enjoying the opportunity it offers. So far we have opened two schools and hope to open more.”
Check out the Pebble toys range at The Big Issue Shop.