October 12: Banu, Konya

This evening (10/12/11) Ragib, his wife, and their daughter, Sara, came to the hotel. What fun it was to “sorta” host them. On the third floor where our room was located, there was a small sitting room – fireplace, love seats, a TV, computer.  Our hotel manager graciously agreed that we could have tea served – and we had purchased dates (melt in your mouth), delicious fresh pears and hazelnuts.

What a delightful conversation! ! !  Ragib has a business.  His wife, Banu, has a business – designing and building office furniture.  She is an architect – and a “live wire!”  She made sure we understood it was office furniture – not kitchen furniture or children’s furniture.  She also has submitted a proposal for a special grant for designing and building office furniture that is earthquake proof – as this is an area in the world where earthquakes are relatively common.

Banu is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and BPW.  She was one of a few women from Konya selected by the Turkish government to help encourage and support entrepreneurial work of other local women.  The process worked something like this:

*  This select group of women help the government identify such women who might qualify – the emphasis is on  helping women expand what they are already doing in their homes – – in order to make money.  For example making jams and jellies, or expanding their delicious cooking to sell to others or to cater.

*  The government gives classes (free, I think) to which these women could come — to learn about how to work with banks, how to get credit, how to comply with government requirements, what insurance is necessary and how to get it etc.  There is an exam and the women have to pass in order to get support from government to get started.

*  Some attend the training and decide this is not for them!

Banu told amazing stories of two women in particular who have been great success stories – – one from the city of Konya and one from a nearby village.  A KEY has been that they have somehow convinced their husbands to accept what they are doing.

Banu will write up the story of one of these women to post on our web site!  Thanks in advance, Banu.

Banu is a leader – – – no question.  She mentors other women, hires women, is very articulate and confident!  We all benefit from the clear, positive energy she brings to this world.

We also so enjoyed the loving dynamics of this family – though we did not get a chance to meet their son who is eleven.  Ragib is clearly proud of Banu.  Daughter Sarah plans to be a designer.  She is especially interested in designing planes (!)  Great teasing between father and daughter about her wearing boots which he thinks are ugly.  🙂  Sarah was chosen for an exchange student – to go to Japan this year, but because of the potential health hazards the family turned down that opportunity.  They are, however, hosting a young man from Mexico and Sarah explained how they enjoy sometimes going to church with him.

This whole family is a gift – in their engagement in life, their respect and love for one another, their commitment to their own faith, and their openness and appreciation of others and others’ beliefs.  And, it seems they may be insightful enough to embrace the industrialism and capitalism available to them AND to temper it so that they do not become prisoners to “more, more, more, bigger is better.”  May all of us engage in this common seeking.

We are honored to have connected with them.

Warm regards to each of you,

Barbara

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