A call for solidarity by Bibi Russell | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 07, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 07, 2020

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A call for solidarity by Bibi Russell

The COVID-19 pandemic has brutally shaken the world. None are being spared from the cruel grip of this global phenomenon, which is severely causing negative impact on the lives of people worldwide.  The impact is being felt beyond the health sector, with prolonged lockdown and isolation, which are disrupting the global economy and creating economic downturn. This global crisis has a brutally local impact, hitting the poor and the vulnerable of the country the hardest.

Bibi Russell, one of the country's most prominent designers, in a call for solidarity, put forth the plight of the artisans of the country.

 "Over the past decades, I have been working very closely with craftspeople in Bangladesh and beyond. I am marvelled by their knowledge of traditional arts, by their fine skills and expertise which allows us to preserve human heritage. I am also deeply saddened to see their struggle for making a living, meeting their household needs, as they strive to offer decent livelihood opportunities to their children. With my training and knowledge in design and fashion, and with my modest means, I have been standing by the craftspeople in different parts of the world, to support them wherever my expertise was required.

 "The focus of my work in Bangladesh has been to ensure the sustenance of fine handwoven fabrics and cultural crafts. In these uncertain and extremely difficult times, it is our collective responsibility to support the vulnerable people and also to protect our exceptional heritage," said Russell.

Russell, a UNSECO Artist for Peace, further added, "I call upon you to join me in this solidarity venture. Each of us can, in big or small ways, help the craftspeople to rebuild a COVID-19 safe future, in a viable socio-economic environment. If each of us, for example, buy a locally woven gamcha, together, we may save many households. Let us join forces and as our first step, support the weaver's community to save our age-old handloom industries."

While governments, and international organisations try to address this unforeseen emergency with recovery provisions, the time has come for all countries to resolutely review their policies and programmes, to make development more inclusive and sustainable. For building the resilience of all segments of population, developing countries must make adequate investment in public health, ensure economic stability, provide social safety and safeguard the natural environment for those who are out of reach of public policies.

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