Swallows is based in an idyllic, rural village, Thanapara Swallows, near the Ganges River in northwest Bangladesh.

Swallows was set up to provide opportunities for women after the village was devastated in 1971, when all the adult males were massacred during the war of independence. Swallows mission is to empower the poor and underprivileged population by eradicating illiteracy, creating health awareness and self-employment, raising awareness among the landless for the rights of land and empowering women by creating economic and social awareness.

As a women's project, even hand weaving, which is normally considered mens' work, is done by women. The natural and azo-free dyed yarns are hand woven into fabrics, then hand embellished with embroidery and tailored. Profits from Fair Trade help cover the running costs of the Swallows school and People Tree started a day care centre for the workers' babies and toddlers in 2007.

Mrs Gini Ali, Assistant Director at Swallows, feels that discrimination and lack of opportunity for women in Bangladesh are the biggest barriers to improving living conditions there. She says: "The Fair Trade principles applied by People Tree have created economic stability for Swallows, allowing it to become an independent organisation, this has led to the empowerment of the women of Thanapara."

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Aims and objectives of Swallows

    To contribute to poverty alleviation and for this purpose assist people to establish different income generating projects for self employment, and thus help them so that they could become self-reliant in the long-run.

    To advance and promote the equal status of woman in the family, as well as in society, gender issues should be included in all awareness-raising activities and programs, which are undertaken by the Society.

    To motivate, organise and form groups of people from the local community and as well as help them understand their real needs and problems, trace the casual links and to find out possible solutions.

    To organise different training programmes and increase skill and awareness among the members through participatory training.

    To undertake educational programmes for adults and children including the teaching on agriculture, Pisciculture, vocational crafts and as well as to provide books to the students.

    To help claim, defend, retain and enhance the status and dignity of less privileged people of our working areas by supporting assistance to them, and if necessary rehabilitate them in the Society.