Unbearable?

But did you know,
That when it snows,
My eyes become large and the light that you shine can be seen. — Seal

The clouds slow­ly turn orange, but the sky is still blue. I see it all through a small win­dow, and half of my view is occu­pied by an air­plane-wing. Today I fly to Dha­ka, Bangladesh. I am going there for 2 weeks to assist with a review of a num­ber of projects in the gar­ment indus­try. It feels like the begin­ning of a new Maaike, the devel­op­ment con­sul­tant who rou­tine­ly trav­els around the world. It doesn’t feel very rou­tine­ly yet, but it’s not very stress­ful either.

I have spent the past few days with Fred­dy in our lit­tle house. That does not sound very spec­tac­u­lar, but it actu­al­ly was. The rea­son is that he has been in Mada­gas­car for 5 weeks (I didn’t put that on the web­site because of my sense of safe­ty). When Fred­dy came back, Ivan was imme­di­ate­ly put on a diet… Prob­a­bly the dual effect of an expand­ing Ivan and the skin­ny cats in Mada­gas­car.

I have aIso enjoyed the begin­ning of the sum­mer with some extra appre­ci­a­tion. The change­able weath­er and the tran­si­tions from sun­ny to cold — and vice ver­sa. Now I am prepar­ing myself men­tal­ly for the mon­soon sea­son in Bangladesh, accord­ing to Lone­ly Plan­et ‘unbear­ably hot’ … For­tu­nate­ly, my new trav­el style is not squea­mish about hotel costs, so it will prob­a­bly be bear­able for me.

The projects that I will work on are part­ly fund­ed by DFID, the devel­op­ment fund of the British gov­ern­ment. They aim to improve the human resource man­age­ment of gar­ment fac­to­ries: work­ers’ rights, safe­ty, occu­pa­tion­al health, trade unions. This main­ly hap­pens by train­ing and sup­port­ing the man­age­ment.

The ready-made gar­ment indus­try in Bangladesh is grow­ing expo­nen­tial­ly. You will prob­a­bly remem­ber the dis­as­ter at Rana Plaza in 2013. After that inci­dent, the big brands have unit­ed to demand work­er safe­ty from fac­to­ries. This was a tem­po­rary agree­ment, set to end this year. It is not clear if the safe­ty has real­ly improved. And of course much more is need­ed to make the indus­try more humane; work­ers should be able to defend their rights them­selves.

It should be very inter­est­ing to hear the sto­ries of these projects and vis­it some of the fac­to­ries. With a bit of luck I will also have time to see the city. Accord­ing to what I hear about it, Dha­ka is an over­whelm­ing melt­ing pot of peo­ple with the worst traf­fic in the world. First a few more hours in the air – final­ly watch­ing the lat­est Hunger Games while the world turns under­neath and the moon watch­es calm­ly.