"O let me wear secretly...the sacred mark impressed by Your own hand." - Rabindranath Tagore
Made by survivors, these 100% natural soaps are handcrafted by women in the red-light district of Bangladesh. These women have made a clean break from their previous lifestyle and have chosen soap making as an alternative source of income. Sacred Mark Enterprise allows these women to provide for themselves in a way which brings pride and respect to their community as well as themselves. Packaged with love and marked with a thumb print by the courageous and inspirational women that make them.
- Chai Masala Ingredients: coconut oil, palm oil, cinnamon oil, black pepper, clove and cardamom essential oil
- Ginger Neem Ingredients: coconut oil, palm oil, neem essential oil, neem powder and ginger root
- Coconut Lavender Ingredients: coconut oil, palm oil, lavender essential oil, coconut flakes
- Cinnamon Clean Ingredients: coconut oil, palm oil, cinnamon essential oil, catechu and cinnamon
- Lemon Ritha Ingredients: coconut oil, palm oil, lemon essential oil, myrobolan, and ritha dust
- 3.25 x 1.75" x 1" (8.2 x 4.4 x 2.5 cm)
- 3.5 oz
- Made in & fairly traded from Bangladesh
"A women earning helps the entire family because the women invest their earnings in family. Then the family's betterment brings good impact on the entire community because of money circulation at different levels or circles."
Prokritee (meaning "nature" in Bangla) is an agency that is dedicated to empowering disadvantaged women who have little or no other opportunities. Most of the women employed by Prokritee are the heads of their households because they have been widowed, divorced, or separated, they have little or no income, are landless with few or no assets, and are primarily rural. Prokritee is a service-based agency that provides artisan organizations with management, product design and development, and marketing assistance. By providing jobs and skills for the women they are able to improve the women's standard of living and help them send their children to school. The women are paid a fair wage, offered training on quality awareness, health, savings, and gender equality, and are provided with a medical allowance and assistance, maternity leave, incomes bonuses, and loan options.
Artisan Minoti Mondal
A cheerful woman who enjoys her work, Minoti has been working for Bagdha, one of Prokritee's artisan groups, for twenty years now. Before Minoti was twenty years old she married a poor farmer. Life was a struggle and after having two sons and two daughters, her husband's income was just not enough. She started looking for work and found a handicraft project that was hiring poor and widowed women. She now works primarily with wood, carving wooden toys. The income she has earned has helped her family immensely. Her four children have been able to finish secondary school, and her 23 year old son has gone on to become a businessman. She is happy she was able to help her children further their education, and hopes to work for Bagdha for as long as she can.
Artisan Usha Rani
Today Usha is a very skilled weaver for Hajiganj Handicrafts, one of Prokritee's artisan groups, but it wasn't always that way. When Hajigani was first started, Usha and the other women hired didn't know anything about weaving and had to be trained. The training lasted a couple of months, and by the end the women were able to weave baskets of all different shapes and sizes. Because Usha is highly skilled, she has been promoted to supervisor. She supervises the other producers to makes sure they are weaving quality baskets, and creates samples for customers.
Hope through soap-making – that is the promise of redemption offered up by the fair trade organization Sacred Mark Enterprise to the women who leave behind their lives in the sex trade. In 1970, a Mennonite missionary group founded Prokritee after a typhoon killed over 300,00 people and destroyed a large part of Bangladesh. They established cooperatives like Sacred Mark, to create handiworks from soap to recycled sari products.
Every woman who arrives at Sacred Mark has a similar, but unique, story of how she'd become a sex worker – Mitu left an arranged marriage to an abusive, drug-addicted alcoholic gambler and turned to sex work to support herself and young son; Asha was raped by a neighbor then beaten by her mother for being raped; Piya was forced into a marriage to an unfaithful man then disowned by her family when she divorced him. They often escape one wretched situation only to end up in another. Few girls learn to read in Bangladesh, which has a literacy rate of less than 60% for the adult population, so hope is a rare privilege.
That cycle of desperation is put behind them when they make a clean start at Sacred Mark, with counseling, support, training, and a chance to earn fair wages. The enterprise's name refers to a phrase from a poem by a famous Bengali poet, printed on the label of each bar of soap, which speaks to the power of transformation. Not only are the women changed, but it ripples out into their families and communities – Mitu's husband received counseling and has given up most of his addictive and abusive behaviors; Piya's daughter is in boarding school, and Asha married two weeks after joining Sacred Mark.
Like the bio-degradable, all-natural, and environmentally friendly soap with luscious scents which the women make and package by hand and seal with the mark of a thumbprint, they are forever reminded that they are unique and can change the world.
I bought several of these as stocking stuffers. The one I kept for myself is lemon ritha. I just opened it today and love the scent. It's a nice white bar and lathers nicely. Will buy again.
Bought one in every fragrance as stocking stuffers for Christmas. Loved each fragrance, but haven't heard back from each recipient. Will update review as each responds.
So happy I bought this soap. I helped women in Bangladesh who are making better lives for themselves. The soap is so fragrant and lathers easily. Well worth the price. The investment into helping others build better lives makes me feel good.