The Invincible Shirt, Made by Rana Plaza Survivors
Oporajeo (invincible, in English) is a factory owned by Dhaka locals, setup after the Rana Plaza disaster on April 24th, 2013 to create job opportunities for some of the survivors as a rehabilitation initiative.
After the disaster, many drives were organized: direct donations; medical camps; reallocation programs; cattle distribution; and different ideas of income earning such as tea stalls were provided to some of the victims. But they were unsuccessful in keeping the victims motivated towards a more permanent mode of living by earning a guaranteed monthly income.
After some discussions and planning with NGO’s, the survivors and other experts, a decision was made to setup a small factory that would produce bags made of jute and jute cotton to be sold in the local market. The idea being, bags would require just a bit of training.
Launched in June 2013 with 6 industrial sewing machines and 7 workers, today the factory is equipped with 21 machines and 23 workers. It is entirely run and operated by Rana Plaza survivors. A production manager, QA expert and R&D expert were recently hired to further improve the quality of products to be marketed internationally and reach foreign markets.
Oporajeo was launched by a group of ordinary citizens with donations from many both in the country and abroad and is completely owned by the workers. They are paid remunerations as per market rate. On top of that 50% of the profit is equally distributed among them. From the rest 50% of the profit, a percentage is utilized to support the workers’ children education and the rest amount is kept for different operational costs. Besides providing job opportunities the factory is ensuring the workers’ children education. The children are admitted in local schools supported by the factory. Oporajeo also provides medical support to the workers. There are some workers who require long term physiotherapy. The workers take time off during the physiotherapy session and cover the hours on other time in the week. The workers also get free treatment as and when required.
When the Fashion Revolution movement began, they had a crowdfunding campaign with a t-shirt made by Oporajeo as one of the perks. Unfortunately, the crowdfunding campaign was not successful (thankfully, the movement launch was). So German brand aluc, believing that change begins from individual choices, decided to collaborate directly with Oporajeo and create a basic t-shirt line for men and women. Because aluc is also a minimal waste brand, following their philosophy, the shirts use upcycled, locally sourced fabric, from leftovers and deadstock. aluc does the design, Oporajeo does the production, and the wearer gets to #bethechange. Get yours here.