Guest post by: Donna Spisso
My husband and I traveled to Dhaka to attend a wedding. I knew I would not miss the opportunity to visit Surayia Rahman, with whom I had the pleasure to know while I lived and worked in Dhaka as a teacher at the American International School 1994-2001. In those days, Surayia’s work was sold through expatriate volunteers. One of the elementary teachers, Phyllis, made part of her house available for shoppers two afternoons a week. When Phyllis asked if I would like to volunteer, I agreed and thus began a beautiful friendship that I treasure to this day.I thoroughly enjoyed showcasing the work and learning about Surayia’s art. Helping with the exhibitions, held biannually, was also a lot of fun. Surayia and the women she had trained to embroider would demonstrate the techniques, and people loved meeting and chatting with the artist, who was always gracious, full of anecdotes and passion about her work. Eventually, I took over the responsibility of insuring that Surayia’s art would continue to have a market. Since she retired, she turned her designs over to the Salesian Sisters. I visited the Salesian convent where I bought a tapestry for a wedding present, happy to see that the quality was very much the same as I remembered. Then I made my way to Surayia’s home and spent a lovely hour with her, reminiscing about old times.