Sheela Odikary’s Story – How fair trade changes lives

Every visit back to Bangladesh provides wonderful opportunities for meeting producers and hearing how fair trade has changed their lives. I met Sheela Odikary in March 2023 and she was delighted for me to share her story.

Sheela is 37 years old, and has been making baskets for the last 18 years or so. She is married to a local carpenter, and they have three children, two sons and a daughter; she being the eldest at 22 years of age. Sheela therefore had her daughter at 15 years old and therefore probably got married very early, around the age of 14 years. She told me that

“making baskets has fully changed my life”

When she got married, her and her husband had nothing other than the roof over their heads. All the money Sheela has earned over the years has gone towards the education of her children. Her sons, pictured here with Sheela, are now sitting their A levels. Her daughter is a highly trained nurse, working in the cardiology department of a major hospital in the capital Dhaka.
The life opportunities and choices available to her children are now a million miles away from what she and her husband knew growing up. Fair trade helps to build resilience among vulnerable communities in order to help them address current and future challenges.

Sheela with her two sons