Sundarban handicraft is a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) located at Gopalpur village of Shyamnagar Upazilla under Satkhira district.
Traditionally the people of this village are Hindu, scheduled as Muchi or Rishi. The Rishi or cobbler communities are disadvantaged and socially ignored in Bangladesh since they work in animal skin, shoemaking and polishing. In the village at present time there are about 380 Rishi persons living in 81 families.
The Centre for Coastal Environmental Conservation (CCEC) launched the Sundarban handicraft SME in May 2008. The project is part of the "Rehabilitation of Sidr affected Sundarban stakeholders" Project, run in cooperation with WWF Italy (funded by AGIRE), and launched as a response to the catastrophic cyclone-Sidr which on November 2007 damaged Sundarban mangrove forest and afflicted the Sundarban more vulnerable coastal communities.
The project involves as stakeholders the Rishi and Munda indigenouscommunities of Datinakhali (Hula).
The objective of the Sundarban handicraft SME project is to reduce poverty of the disadvantaged Rishi and Munda families and to expand the Sundarban culture & heritage among the Sundarban by involving the disadvantaged community in the production and selling of souvenir items such as school bags, tourist bags, hand fans, mobile covers, wall mats, producted with jute and all decorated by hand with Sundarban wildlife (tiger, deer, and lizard) logo.
Men prepare traditional items as Kula (winnowing platter or tray), Chalan (sieve), Changari, hangkura, Kharui, Chak (sewing frame) from bamboo; women usually are housewife but some of them have little skills and are used to make some traditional sewing related to local culture (for example the sew birds on pillow cover or portraits with colourful ropes for newly born kids). The CCEC - WWF Italy -AGIRE program creates an opportunity for different souvenir items making particularly wall mat by their own hand.
A small house has been constructed for running sewing activities together, and in the house the women find a sewing-machine, with showcase, chair, and table. An experienced artist cum painter is employed for Sundarban Handicraft development.By now 25 women from 20 families out of 81 families in Gopalpur village are engaged in different phases of the training.
Day by day, Gopalpur dwellers are being motivated to become nature conservationists through Sundarban Handicraft activities. Involvement of Munda indegenous women within Sundarban Handicraft is in the process. In addiction, initiative is undertaken for learning how to model miniature crocodile, turtle, deer and tiger from honey wax under the supervision of Prochesta, a small artist shop in Khulna city.
Handicraft items are placed in Burigoalini Visitor's Centre, the show-room recently opened near Burigoalini Forest Range Office.