DHAKA: Bangladeshi celebrities are buying burnt clothing to support thousands of traders from a popular market in Dhaka, which was destroyed by a massive fire earlier this week.
The blaze that broke out on Tuesday gutted thousands of shops in the crowded area of Bangabazar, where international brands’ apparel produced by local garment factories is sold at affordable prices after failing to meet export standards.
The Bangladesh Shop Owners Association has estimated that 5,000 shops had been reduced to ashes, with merchants losing everything, as they had recently stocked up on goods ahead of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan later this month.
Amid calls on the government for support, civil society has stepped in to help the traders. Bidyanondo Foundation, one of the biggest social welfare organizations in the country, is organizing a sale of the items partly burnt by the fire, pricing them at $1 each.
The initiative has been supported by top Bangladeshi celebrities including musician Tahsan Khan, cinema stars Shobnom Bubly, Bidya Sinha Mim, playback singer Konal, director Amitabh Reza, and food vlogger Rafsan, who have purchased the apparel at prices multiple times higher than new garments, with some pieces going for $1,000.
“Celebrities from different fields came up voluntarily to strengthen our initiative. They contacted us themselves. We highlighted their involvement to inspire others,” Bidyanondo Foundation spokesperson Salman Khan told Arab News.
The foundation is aiming to raise $100,000 through the initiative to help those affected reorganize themselves before they find new jobs or their businesses get back on track.
“If everyone participates with the small amount of $1, in a collective effort it will become a big amount ... As of today, we have been able to collect around $50,000,” Khan said.
“We all have plans to buy new clothes for Eid celebrations. Let’s purchase a little less. Save $1. If we share this money, it will help many of these people restart their lives.”
The foundation itself is also purchasing the burnt clothes, which it will try to salvage and later distribute among the poor as Eid approaches.
The effort also tries to raise awareness on sustainability as the fashion sector — Bangladesh’s top industry — is a water-intensive business.
“Huge amounts of water are used to make clothes. With this initiative, if we can make the clothes usable again, it will help save the environment also to some extent,” Khan said.
“We will distribute these clothes among the poor as Eid gifts. Although they will be a little faulty, they still can be used.”