A Mothers Hope pulled Alive from the Rubble of a Bangladesh Sweatshop

Miracles will restore faith, if you believe in them. This has been a week of miracle women being freed. This young woman – Reshma Begum; was freed from a building in Dhaka after 17 days of being trapped in rubble. Yes 17 days. That is truly a miracle.

This is her story and what actually caused this disaster in Dhaka

Yes you heard correctly – The building was literally disintegrating before people’s eyes. the other building tenants had closed and told their workers not to come in. Yet the factory which produced clothes for euro brand H & M;  as well as Americas’ Wal-Mart and Gap, were told if they didn’t come in they’d be pay docked.

With this statement and knowledge of the condition of the building -The owners or the factory committed decided mass murder. We believe it is because Bangladesh is the worlds lowest paid country. women were working for the equivalent of $37.00 a month.

Most of those who died and worked there were the lowest paid workers on the planet

Clearly this is why they were treated as though they were disposable. Not only by the sweatshop owners, but by those who purchase their sub-priced goods; without ever associating the goods with the people.

This is clipped from the major media, and it gives a good picture of what Reshma Begum endured.

Woman found alive in Bangladesh rubble recovering


in the midst of what had become a grim search for decaying bodies following the world’s worst garment industry disaster, rescuers found the seamstress, Reshma Begum, alive, providing a much-needed boost for the weary workers.

On Saturday, several photographers were allowed into the hospital to take pictures of Begum. Lying on her bed under a sheet, she looked tired but alert. She was hooked up to a monitor and an intravenous drip.

For 17 days, Begum lay trapped beneath thousands of tons of wreckage as temperatures outside climbed into the mid-30s Celsius (mid-90s Fahrenheit). She rationed food and water. She banged a pipe in a desperate attempt to attract attention and was fast losing hope of ever making it out alive.

In the ruins of the collapsed eight-story building above her, the frantic rescue operation had long ago ended.

“No one heard me. It was so bad for me. I never dreamed I’d see the daylight again,” the seamstress, Reshma Begum, told Somoy TV from her hospital bed after her rescue.

The miraculous moment came when salvage workers finally heard Begum’s banging. They pulled her to safety. She was in surprisingly good condition.

“I heard her say, ‘I am alive, please save me.’ I gave her water. She was OK,” said Miraj Hossain, a volunteer who crawled through the debris to help cut Begum free.

Her rescue was broadcast on television across Bangladesh. The prime minister rushed to the hospital, as did Begum’s family to embrace a loved one they thought they’d never again see alive.

Begum was working on the second floor of the Rana Plaza building on April 24 when the building began collapsing around her. She raced down a stairwell to the first floor, where she was trapped, Suhrawardy said.

Her long hair became stuck under the rubble, but she used sharp objects to cut her hair and release herself, rescue officials said.

“There was some dried food around me. I ate the dried food for 15 days. The last two days I had nothing but water,” Begum told the television station. “I had some bottles of water around me.”

After the building collapse, Begum’s mother, Zobeda Begum, spent sleepless nights rushing from one place to another looking for her daughter, with other family members joining the search. When they found out she had been rescued, they raised their hands in prayer.

“I just could not believe it when I saw her in the hospital,” the mother, a frail woman in her 60s, said tearfully.

Before Friday, the last survivor had been found April 28, and even her story ended tragically. As workers tried to free Shahina Akter, a fire broke out and she died of smoke inhalation.

Crews were instead engaged in the painstaking work of trying to remove bodies so the victims’ families could bury their loved ones. They eventually approached the section where Begum was trapped.

“I heard voices of the rescue workers for the past several days. I kept hitting the wreckage with sticks and rods just to attract their attention,” Begum said.

She finally got the crews’ attention when she took a steel pipe and began banging it, said Abdur Razzak, a warrant officer with the military’s engineering department who first spotted her in the wreckage.

The rescue crews ordered the cranes and bulldozers to stop immediately and used handsaws and welding and drilling equipment to cut through the iron rods and debris still trapping her. They gave her water, oxygen and saline as they worked.

After 40 minutes, she was free.

“She was fine, no injuries. She was just trapped. The space was wide,” said Lt. Col. Moyeen, an army official at the scene who uses only one name.

Begum told her rescuers there were no more survivors in her area. Workers began tearing through the nearby rubble anyway, hoping to find another person alive.

Begum’s sister Asma said she and her mother kept a vigil for the seamstress, who is from the rural Dinajpur district, 270 kilometers (170 miles) north of Dhaka. She said they had been losing hope amid the endless string of grim days, when scores of bodies and no survivors were removed from the rubble.

“We got her back just when we had lost all our hope to find her alive,” she told Somoy TV. “God is so merciful.”

Reshma’s older brother Zayed Islam said she had come to Dhaka two and a half years ago to find work.

“We are a poor family. She had to earn money herself. She got a job in the garment factory,” he said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose government has come under criticism for its lax oversight over the powerful garment industry, raced to the hospital by helicopter to meet Begum and congratulated the rescuers, officials said.

“This is an unbelievable feat,” Hasina was quoted as saying by her assistant, Mahbubul Haque Shakil.

Begum lived in a rented house with her sister, who worked at a different garment factory.

Officials said Saturday that 1,090 bodies had been recovered so far from the ruins of the building, which housed five garment factories employing thousands of workers. They said 780 bodies had been handed over to families.

The disaster has raised alarm about working conditions in Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry, which provides clothing for major retailers around the globe.

Over the last week identification of the bodies being recovered from the debris has become harder because they are badly decomposed, officials said.

Officials say the owner of Rana Plaza illegally added three floors and allowed the garment factories to install heavy machines and generators, even though the structure was not designed to support such equipment.

The owner and eight other people, including the owners of the garment factories, have been detained.

(end of clipping)

There are a few things about this story that make us uncomfortable. These workers were literally in an eight story illegal deathtrap, Making clothes for the US and European markets; While the building was literally collapsing.

That means that the jeans or the dress you and your mom could have bought this week; could have been made in one of these deathtraps in Dhaka. Even possibly this one.

There is so much about this that really brings one to thought today

Her life is irreplaceable; yet we see these conditions all over Bangladesh. We believe it’s mainly because the multinationals who purchase these services don’t take the time to ensure that the international code of human rights and workers rights are followed; in the factories where their goods are produced.

The retailers surely charge the price for these mandates, even if they don’t follow up to ensure that the agreed safety regulations are in place.

We’ve talked about this whole situation before in other posts -

  1. Looked at your Deadly Jeans and Slavery Fundage Connection Lately Hipsters ?
  2. It’s National Buy Nothing Day 2012 – Everything you need to know about the Walmart Black Friday strikes
  3. Why is Walmart making China Rich and America Poor ?

These are not posts which fell on deaf ears. We know that many of you read the post on Prewashed Denim and decided to just say no more.

Thats’ why we take the time and put these thoughts out there into the media universe. To allow our viewpoint to be heard and acted upon. Sweatshops are not small time operations. Sweatshops are major manufacturing operations doing it for pennies on the dollar.

This is what makes it clearly a death trap

If you illegally add floors onto building which are not engineered to hold them, you are engineering death at the least; more alike planned murder.

This should be the viewpoint of the prosecutors who try those who committed to this criminal activity. The boards of stockholders should be served their notices to appear, and present evidence in this plot to kill poor people in modern mechanized plantations / sweatshops all around the globe.

Major retailers know that their part in this is clear in the minds of the consumer – should their brand be linked to this incident.  Remember that the next time you buy textile goods from Walmart, Gap and H & M. We can assure you we will.

Looking at the information that’s been revealed, we believe thats’ why these corporations do business through shadow networks. Bangladeshi networks that contract out their orders and pass on the goods, without their brand name being behind the deal.

That in itself is pure evil in action

This is why we again hope that the evidence of who did this comes to light soon. Let the world see the tags found in the rubble. Show us the brands who now have blood on their hands. Give the consumers the information that will allow them to make the most informed choice, when they spend their hard-earned Dollars, Francs, Euros and Deutschmarks. There has to be a line where this ends, and since this is mothers day – let this be that line.

Today Mothers, Wives, Sisters, and All Other Women who SHOP for Fashion and Household Items – Say No to those who dip your money into their plot of blood.  Just Say No To H & M, Walmart and Gap if made in Bangladesh.

Today We Are All Women Who Matter - Everywhere

Happy Mothers Day Sisters Everywhere