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5 March 2020

Back to Bangladesh

Stanhoe WI members are transported by memories of a childhood spent in Asia.

The speaker at the March meeting of Stanhoe and Barwick WI was Junya Lewis who spoke about her Bangladeshi childhood.

Junya stared by welcoming everyone in her native language and getting a Bangladeshi response, which really alerted the attention of members and guests. This was followed by reminiscences of the colours of clothes and spices and food, and the environment, as well as for the smells of the early mornings.

photos: Rosemary Brown

Junya Lewis and a friend demonstrate how to put on a sari

Her family lived in a hamlet of four or five houses, wooden structures with a mud infill and a corrugated iron roof if you were wealthy. It was a settlement exclusively for Moslems, with a Hindu village nearby which was banned to Junya and her brothers. But everyone helped each other, and her mother worked as the midwife and received payment in rice, or spices, or foodstuffs to nurture them. Junya did jobs within the community such as looking after the goats, and catching fish in the monsoon season.

Her father left the family to work abroad, which was a local tradition, when she was a baby and did not send for the family until Junya was eight years old. So she arrived in Britain speaking no English but with a firm grasp of the Koran, and managed to sail through school maintaining her Moslem roots, and became a teacher, and married an Englishman.

Junya Lewis shows off colourful sari fabrics

We were delighted to be shown garments similar to those worn in her childhood, to see Saris, and see a member elegantly dressed in one in front of our eyes, and to see a man’s Sarong, and traditional jewellery.

It was an entertaining and enlightening talk and made for an enjoyable afternoon for a room full of people.

Posted by: Charles
Posted on: 5 March 2020