On the morning of April 24, 2013, I was sitting at a computer in Northern Uganda organizing the paperwork for a shipment of cotton. Ginning machines whirred in the background.
At the time, I was working for an agricultural company that helped improve the livelihoods of poor cotton farmers in the region.
Suddenly, I saw a message from my friend Shahd about a garment factory that had collapsed in Bangladesh earlier that day. Workers were trapped inside and thousands were feared dead.
The gravity of the fact that I didn’t know where our company’s cotton would end up hit me for the first time. Would the cotton our farmers had worked so hard to produce end up in a factory like this one?
Then I looked down at the bright, pink, neon t-shirt I'd bought for next-to-nothing at H&M, and I had a moment of clarity.
I was a development professional who was committed to changing lives for the better, but I'd never thought to ask about the people who made my clothes. It hadn’t occurred to me to question if they were paid unfair wages or worked in unsafe conditions like the ones I was reading about.