It Has Saved Our Lives

September, 17 2013 Share

Update on the Bangladesh Injured Worker Relief Fund

The Bangladesh Injured Workers Relief Fund is now closed.

You can still donate to support the work of the Institute and its partners in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the developing world, who are fighting for fundamental human, women’s and worker rights.

In the seven months following the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building, the Fund raised a total of $26,000, all of which was given to workers severely injured in the collapse and, in some cases, to the families of workers still missing after six months — who had received no help whatsoever.  Generous contributions from hundreds of caring people helped worker families in desperate need take the first steps to put their lives back together following the tragedy.

Thank you!

(December 12, 2013)


We are delighted to share with you that, thanks to your generous support, we have raised over $25,000 for the Bangladesh Injured Worker Relief Fund. 

In Savar, Bangladesh in April 2013, over 1,129 workers were killed and approximately 2,500 injured in the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, with five garment factories on its upper floors. 

In early May, the Institute established the Bangladesh Injured Worker Relief Fund to raise emergency support to assist victims and their families in getting through this tragedy - especially since any possible compensation would be months in coming, if it came at all.  To date, $20,000 has been disbursed to 396 workers and their families by the Institute's Bangladesh team, mostly in collaboration with the Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, whose office is just behind the Rana Plaza collapse site.  The distribution work is painstaking, since much of it has had to be done by going to the homes of workers, many of whom are still too ill to come to a central meeting place. 

The contribution amount was initially set at 3,000 taka ($39) per family, about a month's wage.  When donations started flowing in, we encouraged our partners to increase the amount, which they have now done, to 4,000 taka ($52).  Typically, the majority of the contribution was used to buy food, and a portion of the money was spent on medicine and medical care.

Following the first stage of distribution of $15,000, the Institute sent $7,000 more to Bangladesh in August, just before the Muslim religious holiday of Eid Ul Fitr.  Distribution commenced in September.  In addition to helping injured workers, this round of distribution focused on families of workers who are still missing after the Rana Plaza tragedy.  Several hundred workers remain missing - partly because the process of DNA matching is very slow, but it is increasingly clear that some bodies will never be found.  Most of these families have received no help at all and are in desperate straits economically - in addition to facing the unspeakable trauma of losing a son, daughter or spouse without even having a body to grieve.  The distribution of funds to families of missing workers is being done in collaboration with a group of students and faculty of the local Jhangirnagar University who have taken on identifying and maintaining contact with these families. 

To date, over $25,000 has been raised and the balance of a little over $3,000 will be sent to Bangladesh this week.


"It has saved our lives."

Sobita Rani worked on the second floor of Rana Plaza.  Her left arm was crushed in the building collapse.  She and her husband were the only breadwinners of their family of four - including their baby girl and her mother-in-law.  With Sobita severely injured in the collapse, they were having trouble putting food on table.  She spent 86% of the money she received from the Injured Worker Relief Fund on food for her family and the remainder on medicine to help her heal.  The emergency contribution of 3,000 taka ($39) sustained her family for one month.


"I worked at New Wave Bottom on the second floor.  My left hand was crushed in the building collapse.  I was in the hospital for two weeks at the Savar Enam Medical College Hospital.  I received 3,000 taka from the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation and the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.  It was really a great help for my family.  With 3,000 taka, we bought one month's food.  We have a four-member family-my husband, daughter, mother-in-law and me.  We bought the following food items for a month:

Coarse rice, 30 kg

1000 taka

Lentil, 2 kg

200 taka

Soybean oil, 3 liter

300 taka

Potato, 5 kg

100 taka

Egg, 1 dozen

100 taka

Chicken, 2 kg

300 taka


200 taka

Small local fish

100 taka

Baby milk and food

300 taka


400 taka

"In the months of May and June 2013, we had balanced diets as we got emergency relief from the Institute and the Federation.  It has saved our lives.  There was no income except for the relief assistance in May.  We did not have any savings to mitigate the sufferings caused by any disaster.  Neither the government nor the BGMEA [Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association] provided us any emergency help.  Our lives could have been different had the factory owners and government extended help for our survival.  We sincerely express our gratitude to those who stand by our side by providing us emergency relief to save our lives."  



"We will never forget your help."   

As a sewing machine operator at the New Wave Style factory in Rana Plaza, 22-year-old Shamila was denied her maternity leave and benefits.  Then her husband, who also worked at New Wave, was buried in the rubble for two days and suffered a severe chest injury.  The $39 emergency fund she received helped her family get through this difficult time.

"My name is Shamila and I worked at the New Wave Style factory on the eighth floor as a sewing machine operator.  The company denied my maternity leave and benefits.  I got admitted to the Thana Health Complex for my delivery.  My husband worked on the same floor as a sewing machine operator.  He was rescued after two days of the building collapse.  I acknowledge receipt of 3, 000 taka from the Institute and the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation.  Since the company [New Wave Style] cheated my maternity benefit, I used some of this money to buy baby food and medicine for me and for my husband.  He sustained a severe chest injury and had been in hospital for two weeks.  We bought lifesaving medicines and nutritious food (fruits, milk, meat and vitamins) with the money you donated to us.  We are grateful to you for your generous contribution that saved our lives.  Your help has reached out to hundreds of victim workers.  Had there been many kind people like this in Bangladesh, the world could have been different.  This relief came to us at a critical time of our lives.  We will never forget your help."  


Fund Distribution

Our team on the ground partnered with the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation to carry out eleven rounds of distribution to date, beginning in May.  The Federation and its activists had a close relationship with the Rana Plaza workers even before the collapse, and they have taken the lead in advocating for the victims and their families since the tragedy, playing an important role in organizing workers and their families as well as keeping lists of the injured, dead and missing.  To date, 396 workers and their families have received emergency support.  Funds have been distributed to injured workers in their homes, the Federation's office, and in two hospitals - the Dhaka Orthopedic and Trauma Hospital and the Center for Rehabilitation for the Paralyzed (CRP.) 


Thank you!


Garment and Industrial Workers Federation and the Institute's team handing out relief fund in May for workers who were injured at the Rana Plaza factory building collapse.

Injured Rana Plaza garment workers receive Relief Fund assistance
at the Garment and Industrial Workers Federation office,
adjacent to the site of the Rana building collapse.








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