753 Mehedibag, Chittagong, Bangladesh

Case Stories

BUPF member facilitating SDLG Training for strengthening LG

Dilder Hossain Kislu is the Chairman of Uttar Kalcho Union Parishad under Hazigonj upazila in Chandpur district. He is also a BUPF (Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum) member under Chandpur district committee. His respective LGU is one of the intervention LG units under SDLG grants program at Chandpur District. SDLG has organized & facilitated Training on PSP (Participatory Strategic Planning) for partner’s organizations on 6-7 May 2012 at Hope center, Savar. Dilder Hossain Kislu participated as trainee in this training as a BUPF member on behalf of BITA implemented SDLG project supported by Tetra Tech ARD & funded by USAID. Returning from training Mr. Kislu has taken part as facilitator in the PSP training organized by BITA. He already facilitated session of 2, 3 & 5 according PSP training module. He said about his new experience by showing pleasure & responsibility. He is enjoying & getting new learning, thoughts & ideas. He would like to be good facilitator.

Didar Hossain Kislu is faciliating a session named participatory planing process & strategy of peoples participation in PSP traing on 23 May 2012 at Upazila Parishad Hall Room premises

One Initiative to step out of Poverty

South-middle Hali Shahar, Anand Bazar; Ward no. 37, Durga Mandir colony – is an overcrowded community. Anju Das, 30 years old, is a dweller in seven members’ family. Her husband earns by selling fish in local market with a very irregular amount and the rainy season is favorable for better amount. So poverty always paws in their family. Moreover three of their children are in study. As she knows sewing, so she tried to support her family by sewing dresses of community people that added income almost 2000 taka per month. Though it was not enough, supporting like ‘something is better than nothing’.
She has been learnt about UDC programme from neighbor and got introduce with the activities, motivation program, monthly meeting etc. Knowing these she became inspired and joined with UDC. To her, “Since they don’t help us in exchange of anything rather assist to achieve our rights so we should accept them and try to realize their advice.” A new path has been opened in her life. She was selected as the treasurer of the committee. Then she tried to attend in monthly meeting regularly. These meetings motivated them for the development of own as well as community people. Getting information about Anju’s talent of sewing, in a lobbying meeting with youth department BITA approached about her talent. Youth department has taken it concern and selected Anju as their trainer in a 14 days sewing training session. Anju was very happy to be selected as a trainer. After finished the training session she got Tk. 1400 as her honorarium and Tk. 500 as sewing machine’s rent. For conducted good training session Youth department also offered her to be a regular trainer and this opportunity added almost 4/5-thousand taka per month in family income. About her performance, NYDI Officer said, “We just want to raise undeveloped community people’s talent by providing them opportunity.” She says, “It’s only possible for UDC.” She expresses her feeling thus, at past her opinion did not get prefer. But now the situation has been changed. Now she is able to bear her family expenses easily. Her family can fully depend on her and also accepts her advice. Her mother –in- law said that she felt proud of her daughter-in-law. Anju’s husband also inspires her. She also achieved a good position in community as people seek advice from her in problem. But Anju Das now dreams to be a successful tailor, to have a shop where people will get there cloths and also make order for sewing and some poor people could work there and earned money which will make them self dependent. She remarks, ‘Now I know how to be dreamy…sky is not far……’

Ariful Islam: A Promising Leader

Ariful Islam, UDC president of Ward no 38, South-Middle Hali Shahar, Salt-gola crossing of Chittagong, only age of 23 and carrying on graduation program. He is young, energetic and enthusiastic and also dreamy. Dream of adjoining thyself with social change through developing his area. So when an opportunity has come towards him, he tried to catch it and Unit Development Committee was the best opportunity to fulfill his wish, so he didn’t made mistake to recognize.

Ariful Islam involved with Unit Development Committee from the time when he heard and was selected as president for his excellent leadership aptitude. In monthly meeting, UDC members traced their most important problems and the solution. They also learned about the government institutions from which they have right to get service but they didn’t. Upon the discussion they made an action plan and direction to avail the services from service provider institutions. At first they planned for a solid approach road since they were suffering for several years from their unlabelled road. According to plan Ariful communicated with the honorable persons of their area, with the help of NSA project Officer of BITA. Then met with ward councilor Nurul Islam Tulu and talked about their needs and action plan and given follow up constantly. During new budgeting of ward, he presented again their demand accompanied with NSA member Zakir Hosen and Md. Azam and some honorable persons. On the basis of their demand, ward councilor has visited the area and took step for a solid road of 200 meter. Whole time of the road repairing project Arif worked hard and cautious as it was not to be corrupted. The road upgrades the communication within their community. Owner of a small grocer beside the road Md Liton’s opinion, “it also helps to increase our monthly income.”

He also worked to ensure economic empowerment of women, lobbied with National Youth Development Institution (NYDI) with the help of NSA project Officer to make process for one of the UDC member work as a trainer. Identifying needs of training on several issues he organized sewing training for two times for the poor and marginalized women (21 female for the first batch and 30 female for the second batch) who wanted to do something in own initiative with the cooperation of NYDI. Getting assurance of cooperation from NYDI, he also arranged free mobile hardware training for 21 people to develop their skill on mobile hardware for their livelihood. Communicating with Women Development Institution (WDI), he has also processed maternity allowance for 4 service holder ladies which will be paid for two years in four installments and per term 2100 taka.

He also helped 35 dropped out children to be admitted in a local primary school through communicating with ex-ward councilor. He also involved with other activities for the improvement of the ward. Grocer Md. Liton who is living in this community for 25 years, says about Arif – “When any step is taken by Arif we can be tension free.” Arif is trying hard for the development of the ward no. 38. He wants to ensure 100% medical service, awareness about neat and cleanliness, establishments of more dustbin, adult education, and self-independence of the people of this community. About this community ward’s councilor Afroza Kalam said, “Arif is young and youthful. Youth leadership is fully expressed in his character. He has a lot of time and opportunity to change the community. It will be tough but possible. Lot of changes is needed in this community. We try our best to help like this young leader.” Arif says, “I want a reformed and progressive look of our community and I dare to wish it because I have learned how and where to get approached to establish our rights and believe unity is the best policy for development.”

Model of Unique Development

After walking on over flowing dirty water of drain when one reaches at the Chairman colony s/he can feel odor and when the dusk comes down then anyone can hear sound of teasing from here and there. Overcrowded and unhygienic area where people were totally unconscious about it. It’s the back image of mirror of Chairman Colony of Ward no. 8 in Panchlaish of Chittagong since two and half years ago which has been changed unconditionally due to the heartfelt effort of each members of Unit Development Committee (UDC) of this ward.

At the initial stage, before the formation of UDC, people of the ward were called in a meeting by BITA to discuss and map the social economic condition of the area and identify the obstacles to obtaining services. Information regarding various services and service providers was also discussed. These new learning made them able to understand about their poor condition and find the way to recover it. Enthusiastically they formed Unit Development committee (UDC), consisting of 43 marginalized people and NSA members, ones with social acceptability and popularity for helping the ones in need, under NSA project. The committee started gathering every month and at first tried to trace the main problems of their colony, upon so made an action plan to get the fruit and also with whom they will communicate. Scenarios began to change when they started to implement their action plan. UDC chairman Minu Islam said , “We never knew about our rights and access, even didn’t have idea where can get proper information.” “But now we are concern about so, as well as establish and claim firmly”, she explained about their changes. NSA Saima Hoque helped them to accomplish the works. At the time the members participated in different interactive events with the service providers and attended various trainings, which made them more confident to assist community people.

For the implementation of their action plan they collectively lobbied with ward commissioner and first achievement of them was establishment of 100 meters drain which removed their sufferings in rainy days. To keep their community clean and hygienic they demanded for a dustbin and assessing their demand ward commissioner established a dustbin in the area. UDC also managed 20 lights of lamp post in their area, on impact now eve teasing is a rare phenomenon here

To tell about changes in her life UDC member Shumi Chowdhury said, “My income has been increased from taka 20 thousand to 40 thousand and employed 4 women to assist me since my working area has broadened now.” “It’s basically possible only for UDC which makes me able to understand market chain”-,she added. The changes also influence her social life. As her, “Now we have access to ward commissioner even he calls us, take our advice and seek help in case of social problem. Community people also come to seek help.” UDC member, Asma said that at past her husband didn’t permit her to go out of home, at times assaulted her; also an addicted one. The situation is changed for the help of UDC members; who tried to make him understand and provide knowledge time to time. UDC also assisted community people to get legal aid. As 60 above aged Romiza Khatun said, “I recovered my son’s money from a loaner, taking the legal help whereas I never think about it but it was possible to do for the assistance of UDC-NSA member.”

Besides, up to this year they arranged health campaign for two times which provided free health services, medicine only by 20tk as registration fees. With the help of BITA they arranged street drama on four social issues, women right, human trafficking, dower and child marriage which brought huge changes in their community. They also arranged ‘Pala’ on safe maternity and family planning.

Apart from developing list of the poor and hardcore poor people of the area, they ensured VGF card for several persons and helped 20 old people to receive old allowance. Also took initiative in other social activities, like, to readmit dropped out children, solved conjugal problems and so on. UDC members want to change their society by changing their life. They said – ‘There is no power to stop their social working force.’ Their most wanted plan of them is to make each and every people of their society to be self-reliant & independent and then to get permanent and proper health service.

A Natural Women Leader

The story is about her becoming SHAHNAJ PARVIN from an innocent housewife, when involved with Unit Development Committee (UDC). Shahnaj (age 35) is a progressive social activist living at Ward 29 in West Madar Bardi of Chittagong. Her little income was coming from her private coaching and she invested her income to manage her husband’s small shop to support family. It was too tough to manage her family maintenance and children’s educational expenses. She tried to find out the way to get rid of the situation. She believed that she can do something.
Meanwhile NSA project has been started their activity and joining in meeting she knew about its activities, working plan, at how they could be benefited etc. New learning made her enthusiastic to join at Unit Development Committee (UDC) and with all presented people’s concern she was selected as treasurer. Different meetings, discussion sessions and interaction with service providers assisted to built her knowledge about government and non-government services for marginalized people, like, health services, free medicine etc. and also learned about their rights and where to claim it. All these learning made her capable and confident to support poor people through expressing her natural leadership. Shahnaj started to build up relationship with several govt. and non-govt. institutions to arrange meeting with officials and training sessions at their ward office. With the help of NSA project Officer and ward commissioner Saidul Islam Tulu, Shahnaj Parvin arranged a ‘human dialogue’ with the subject matter of ‘safe maternity and child health.’ In presence of urban health centre (Mamata)‘s supervisor Vijan Kumar, they focused on primary medical service, pre and post maternity health, child health, communication with hospital, lack of satellite clinic etc. In consequence, a satellite clinic was set up and 35 families got red cards for free medical treatment. In the meantime for constant communication with ward office, a good relationship was built up between UDC members and ward commissioner Tulu. Being noticed Shahnaj Parvin’s common leadership attitude, energy and enthusiasm, he selected her as president of Women Ward Development Committee during the formation.
At the time of ward budget tracking UDC members arranged a meeting with commissioner to implement their action plan, as consequences a school is established for child education. Since he was informed about Shanaj’s coaching, he referred her to work as the teacher of school. Commissioner permitted to build up a schoolhouse on City Corporation’s estate and donated 5000tk. The rest amount of 9000tk was arranged by Shahnaj herself and her husband built the school himself without any charge. The number of the student of this school is 40. They got every educational materials of their own and monthly 160tk per head. Most of the students are child labor. NSA pays Shahnaj monthly 1500tk as her wage and 1500tk as house rent per month. Besides, with providing coaching to all most 17 students she gets 2000tk monthly. Now she is a self- dependent woman. With her income she can help her husband in business. She was refreshing her memory as said, “When my elder daughter was appearing at S.S.C., I was scared and have to manage money for her form through borrowing it. But now I’m solvent. My daughter is appearing H.S.C. exam and I’m schooling my two sons in a well known school of Chittagong and I bear all of their educational expenses. Now people come to me to seek advice. My husband also prefers me more than before and peace is not illusion now.” But she dreamed for a permanent school under direct concern of City Corporation. She wants to take part in social change by continuing the school activities and dreamed of a colony where no one will be illiterate.

Sakhina Khatun: Tale of Hope

Awasbalia union of Noakhali district is now an example of unified voice for community development initiatives. But the scenario was not the same even before a year ago. The main livelihood opportunities are agriculture and fishing for the most of the people. They hardly can think of other livelihoods beyond these two options to manage the regular life. They could not even think of any other alternatives to change their existing standard of life or to take initiative for the betterment of their life.
Sakhina Khatun, age 55, living in West Awasbalia used to live with great misery when she was not involved in Union Development Committee. She is a widow not having any children or anyone to take care of her. With a very hardship she used to manage to work in agricultural land as day labor and earned taka 40 per day which is very small amount against her demand. The hardship turns to worsen day by day, Even she needed to starve when no work available.
In this condition, she learnt about NSA project and got interested; with a little hope joined in Unit Development Committee (UDC) and elected as general secretary. Then she started to join in the meeting regularly that also developed her awareness of the rights and government services. It was a new learning for her to know about their socio economic condition that analyzed through pot analysis. She also learnt about various services of government for marginalized people and the way to approach their rights through training and discussion. The discussion made her capable to support the community people to have access in government safety net programme.

Sakhina started experiencing a new life after joining at UDC. Knowing her condition, UDC lobbies with UP chairman to enlist her name for widow allowance (Social Safety Net Programme of Government). Accordingly, she got card and for the allowance of 300 tk monthly which relieved her from starving. In the last year she enlisted for another social safety net programme which was possible for constant lobbying of UDC with UP chairman. “I have also started working in 40 days employment programme after joining UDC. I didn’t have the opportunity before” – she added. She made an amount of 5,075 after working 29 days. She said, ‘With my income, I repaid my loan, bought food and other necessary things for home .’

But she thought of permanent source of income. Linkage with agriculture office made her trained for poultry and homestead gardening. After receiving training, she was confident to do something in own initiative and then started homestead gardening and selling in the local market. From selling vegetables she is now earning tk 200 – 400 per month. Local private clinic also hired her as a trained midwife. She has been serving for ensuring safe delivery for the community women. It has also been added an amount of 200 tk monthly with her monthly income.

Now Sakhina can think to help other people or taking such initiatives. She realized marginalized people, like her, need to know this information to claim and get their rights. Her support also extended to receive the widow allowance and allocated medicine in government hospital

As a participant of Union Development committee, she also takes part in the decision making process of any community development initiatives. Now confidence reflected through her voice “One can change his / her life if get any assistance.” She got it through UDC and now she is showing the way of hope to others and changes her position in the society.

Kusum Begum: A Change Maker

Kusum Begum (age 30), knew to make wicker stool (mora), but never get fair price before joining Unit Development Committee (UDC). Her only income source was to work as maid. Managing the regular family expenditure turns to an everyday tragedy for her. Having the discussion with neighbor, she learnt about NSA project and involved as UDC member. Different types of discussion in regular meeting made her analyses to change her living condition. Being involved in the committee, she found a way to assist her. Her knowledge built up through attending different meeting and interaction with service providers. She learned about the different services of different government offices and the way how to approach to claim. This learning made her capable to bring changes in own life and support other to get the services of government. The discussion on market linkage facilities and income generation brought out a hope for her product (cane made tool). UDC assisted her to manage the capital and to link up with Youth Development Training Centre of Gabuba. As a producer, she received a loan of 20000 tk to run the small business.
With the loan, she expanded production employing an assistant. By investing 6500 tk for raw materials, she made an income of 26000 tk. She made the tool following two size and sold in the local market with the price of 200 tk and 120 tk .By the new income, she started repaying the loan. At present, local trader collect the product from her place and her monthly income depends on the number of product she can make. Furthermore, Youth Development office enlisted her for IGA training. Being a potential participant she also developed her as trainer. As a trainer, she earns 2000 to 4000 tk per month. Her incomes also encouraged other community people to start income generating activities. The economic development also made her a position in the society. She is now confident to raise her voice in any development initiatives. At the same time, she assisted others five UDC members to take loan for small business. Having learnt about the opportunity Self employment initiated through the facilitation of UDC in her community.
The changes have been reflected in every stages of her life. She can now afford to send two children for school. Even she has managed to deposit 50,000 taka. With the savings, she is planning to repair their house. “I never dreamt to make change my economic condition. But having involved in UDC, I am dreaming to go further and want to spread the dream to all.” she added.

A Successful Entrepreneur

Momtaz has been struggling to meet the family demand with the small income of her day labor husband. In rainy season, her family hardly can get food once in a day due to unavailability of agricultural work. Still joining Unit Development Committee this was the regular life of Momtaz Begum, housewife of the Bhangha Kha Union of Laxmipur Sadar upazilla under Laxmipur district. In this struggling situation, she tried to increase family income and earned 1500 tk, working in an agricultural field.

At that time, Momtaz has been involved as UDC member and learnt about the different services of government, the rights and entitlements of marginalized through the government support, was an advance learning for her to improve the situation. “I have got the opportunity of government provided training being a UDC member” – said Momtaz. She received three months training from the Youth Development Office of Laxmipur.
After receiving training she interested to start sewing to earn. In the monthly UDC meeting, she found a solution offering 1800 tk support by other UDC member to bought sewing machine. She managed to sell all her readymade garments in local markets. Furthermore her community people started to give order for sewing which added in her income. Now her income reached upto 4500 tk monthly. In the meantime, she repaid the loan and using the money in household expenditure.
“I am now an example for other women in my village. Moreover, all respect me now for the changes in my life. My husband also support me in my work”- she added – “I want to expand my business and have started saving for that.”

UDC Member as Organizer of YDI

“Training of youth department and UDC brought the changes in my life”, the voice of UDC member of char Ruhita union under sadar upazila of Laxmipur district. He could hardly mange 200 taka per day, working as agricultural labor, which was not enough to meet the need of his six member’s family. With the small income, he could not afford to send his children to school. His shabby house adds the misery during rainy season.
When Akinchan Das heard about UDC, attended the meeting of Unit Development Committee (UDC) and selected as general secretary. Through attending the meeting with the government official and other organization, he learnt about the livestock, family and planning, youth development department. In a meeting, through discussion with youth department he learnt of the training opportunity of government youth department. Receiving three months cow rearing training he replied, “I was totally unaware about these opportunities and all of these took my life into a new turn” – He planned to take loan form youth department and applied through the support of NSA member and a loan of 15000 taka granted for him. He started to selling milk in local market and earned 10000 tk per month.

In the meantime, Akinchan also selected as community training organizer of government youth department. He assisted youth department by organizing the eligible participants. The information of safety net support and agriculture services advantaged him to assist other community people. Changes in his life inspiring other people like him to look for the income source to develop living condition. “Since government is providing us support we should get that” – he commented. “As a member of UDC and as an organizer of Youth development, my responsibility is to provide them (poor and marginalized people) information regarding the services,” he added.

Children reporting

In CHT in Bandarban BITA is working for children protection with the support of SCI. Here child protection practice is in less position. Children are mostly vulnerable on CSA (Child Sexual abuse). Moreover communities are not interested to open up about the issue. Here Children are more likely to be sexually abused by someone they know, including relative. Children may not always realize that what is being done to them is abuse. Children do not always tell about abuse. Children should be taken seriously when they do tell about abuse. Children don’t know the right way to talk with each other to solve the problem. But they give their consensus that it is important to address CSA issue in each and every community in Bandarban.

Supporting by SCI (Save the Children International) BITA is implementing a project in CHT, Bandarban protecting children from CSAE (Child sexual Abuse & exploitation) where children age from 6 to 18 years enrolled. Here Community Children space concept is the centre point to lead explore of children capacity, community mobilization & strengthen the process.
Under Children space initiatives Children are taking part with regular session, life skill education, capacity development training, cultural capacity to using alternative tools, different events & campaign etc. Children informed that they have experienced eve-teasing in all the time on the way to their works, school, Bazar and festival place. Children are responding the incident is children space. This is remarkable that Children are got access to share their existing vulnerability on CSA, experience on that particular issue, identifying perpetrators etc with their friends, parents & community. This approaches contributing to make progress the report development process from Children side. In order to giving support to Children a few different community groups are existing like youth, mothers & fathers group & CWG (Community watch group). About 40 community Children in 4 working areas are capacitated as spoke men for protecting themselves from CSA. They are participating in different events with CWG, parent’s group meetings as children representatives. Children are informing that who they are abused by the outsider of the community and abused by the abuser from their community inside.
Children representation is exist in CWG group. Centering CWG community level reporting process has been developing. They determined to develop regular reporting on occurred CSA & vulnerability. Youth groups are committed to make contribution of develop community based report writing process.
Community has initiated Participatory Reporting where children are sharing their own data for examining the values progress, constraints and achievements of project an programs by stakeholders. In reporting process in every step by using PRA tools and techniques for generate information; find out threat and opportunity and also problem solving knowledge management. Formats and checklist usually; different methods considering mode of work has been used for programme monitoring, assessing progress of work and project evaluation, which will covered the result of activities, project outputs, project inputs, progress of programme according to objectives, the way the programme is managed, process of work and recommendations have been drawn for next intervention.

I do my work delightfully

Adolescent name: Mukta Sardar

Village: Dhalghat, Patiya,Chittagong

Patiya is one of the important country-side Upazilla in Chittagong. To visit Bandarban & Cox’s Bazaar one has to move through over Patiya. Dhalghat is one of the prominent villages in Patiya Upazilla for its historical events of movement against British period, cultural movement also. This village is situated about 7 kilometers far from Patiya Sadar. Most of the people of this village involve with agriculture. A few fisher folk communities also have has in this village. They passed their lives very hand to mouth & struggling due to over child, lack of education & awareness, less work opportunity. Children in this area do not go to school in right age, high dropout rate of adolescent girls. Mukta Sardar is presently a youth who lives in this village. Her father is a fisherman. His mane is Badal Sardar & Mother is Basu Sardar. Their family consists of 7 members with 3 brothers & 2 sisters. Mukta is the fourth one of her parents. Mukta dropped out from school in 2005 from class three. Her elder brother was separated from family when he got married. After dropping out from school Mukta have to involve with household work seriously because her mother involve as a domestic labour.

She says, “ I was unemployed and could not support my parents financially. But now I earn money and can support them. I feel even more delighted as I can support them financially despite being a girl. Many say my work is very tough. But I do my work delightfully.”
Considering this thing BITA incorporated education program in this area under EYE (Education for Youth Empowerment) since 2010 where promoting livelihood based education is one of the prior interventions to create employment opportunities for the youth. After starting EYE program under the project Mukta became involved covering with Individual Career Development Plan (ICDP). Through initiated process of ICDP Mukta developed, her path of employment opportunity, plan focusing self employment. In October of 2010 she got a 7 days handicraft training based on develop cane product. After getting the training she started to make cane product gradually. According to initial product quality, she sold one cane chair by 250 taka initially. Observing her wishes, project feel to provide further better skill improvement in this respective area. For that an advanced level 4 days training had provided for her betterment skill increase on September’11.By this time she showed her product to a local fair. On that time observing her enterprising intention a few local organizations provided her financial support to buy raw materials. She becomes known as a good cane made producer in her constitution. She is getting product order regularly. She wishes to make a group enterprise with her equal fellows. Aside from the non-formal learning centre, BITA runs Vocational Training Centre (VTC). As she was very active, she received training on how to make bamboo stools at this VTC. Once the training being over, BITA bought her the necessary materials/ components to make bamboo stools in two equal installments. A sum of taka 3000 was spent in these two installments. Now she can make a pair of stools a week and sell them for about 700 taka. She intends to continue this work.

“Her parents are very proud of her as she is playing a boy´s financial role being a

girl. She is determined to do a job once she makes up her mind. That´s way, she can still do the present hard work. She deserves full credit for her work. She has found out a way to end her poverty.”
She was not well off. So, the technical knowhow that she got from VTC has helped her become self-reliant. The technical training of VTC supported by Save the Children International has played a pivotal role in ending her poverty and establishing herself in the family.
There were 4-5 adolescent girls in her group who received training on making bamboo stools like her. This group of girls intended to find a way to enrich them technically. They, of their own accord, received further training on making plastic bags having a great demand in the local market. They are now planning to open a mini factory where girls like them will come to become solvent and to fulfill their destiny.
Mukta has become known as a good art & craft producer in her constitution by using cane & bamboo.
Through this activity of BITA, a meaningful partnership has been developed among a local organization named LCF and Usha project of BRAC where employment based youth skill development on agriculture will be focused.

Tumpa and her Business group in Patiya

Tumpa Akter, a girl of 20 years could not complete her studies because of the pervasive poverty. She lives in a village of Borolia Union of Patiya Upazilla where many other girls of her ages could not complete study and get married by their families and struggling with poverty and bringing the same situation like them for their children. During the rainy days they cannot even sleep as their rooms were washed with rain water.
Some day Tumpa found out the courtyard session at a nearby courtyard and asked the other members to go and see what is being discussed in this meetings. As such Tumpa and her group joined the meeting that has been undertaken by PPVHTB project team of BITA. Later when the livelihood intervention was designed considering this group’s vulnerability of being at risk, they were included in the livelihood intervention. Tumpa leading the team expressed their interest to run the small grocery shop which was once operational but later due to shortage of investment it had been shut down.
BITA has supported them with capacity building of operating small business and provided them inputs to start up the store. Now visiting their small grocery shop it can be easily assumed that how sincerely they have addressed their livelihood development through this economic empowerment. They have also built up a coordinated effort of trust and sharing as a way upholding team spirit. Now Tumpa has got admitted to the Open University for appearing SSC exam and has a desire to continue her study. The other members are also contributing for their families’ betterment, children’s education. They are also doing some social activities such as they have mobilized the communities for using hygienic sanitation and built up ring slab toilets etc. They are hoping that the project’s contribution will really have made a significant change in their life

Livelihood Improvements Ignite Light of Hope

Md Shahjahan lives at Dakkin Barokheri village of Barokheri union under Ramgoti upazila. Father : Late Amir Hossain. He lost the shelter for seven times due to erosion caused by flowing Meghna river. Devastating Meghna snatched away all possessions of Amir Hossain repeatedly. But he never bend but stood boldly to face obstacles. At last he took shelter beside torn embankment. He earns by fish capture through floating boat on the wide chest of Meghna. He nourishes dream avoiding risk of death and remain active for livelihood with liveliness. All family members are dependent on him. He recently crossed age of 60 years. Though ageing with hard labor makes some marks, still he bears strong vital energy. He possesses limitless potentiality to overcome poverty. Fish capture is his main occupation. He passed many days out of employment. He had to work at others’ boat on shared-basis for years since he possesses no boat. All day shared labor brought meagre 150/200 taka per day. He maintained family with this small income. Some times he had pass days without employment. When Meghna remain very restive in rainy season, then there is no scope to catch fish. That time that had to pass hard days. They combat food-contraints somehow without or less food intake. In the way they passed more days in wants and food insecurity. Days go, night come. But they pass days half-fed state many days. The family consists of 10 members – 3 sons & 5 daughters. It’s like an unwanted journey of life. He couldn’t bear educational expenses of children that halted education of this generation. Cruel lashes of poverty make him wounded every day – all time. This destitute man included with ALLOW project following a selection process. His HH # 251730890154. He remains present in every meeting and sessions organized under the project. In continuation, he received cash amounting 15000 taka for fishing business. Investing this cash in fish buying from fishery ghat he started business of fish selling. With increase in profit he made some savings. Later he bought some fishing-nets and boat step by step. At one stage he started to catch fish throwing fishing net in the river. Eldest son helps him where 3 more persons emplyed on share-basis. He owns 2 fishing nets and 1 small boat having estamated value 30000 taka. He earns 500 – 600 per day through fish capture. Now he is in happy and comfortable life. He bears daily expenses without hardships. They could take fish 2 times weekly and meat once fort-nightly. Joys and happiness reflects in their faces. Now 2 sons and 2 daughters go to school. He comfortably bears their education expenses. The youngers cherish desire to be enlighted men in future. They will remove sorrows of their parents. They will work to make good for ultra-poor people. Shahjahan dreams to repair the impaired house using the savings. Thus livelihood support brings fruit to eradicate darkness of poverty-stricken family. Now his wife part in family level decision making. Shahjahan remain present in CSC meetings regularly and informed about issues related to health, women empowerment, livelihood, service providers.He realized that women should equal partner in development. So gives importance on opinions of wife. Now Shahjahan play key role in earning while wife manage all other household affairs. Both have discussion and opinion in family level decision making process. Now they live in a pheripery of hope and certainty. Sparkles instill to reflect newer life – new meaning. Mild light afternood made him more attractive. He seems more lively and fluent. He discovered the domain of happiness after waiting of long days.

Inspiring role of UP member in local development

Union parishad member Mizan succeeds in tax collection. He became member of 7 no ward of Bhanga Kha union parishad under sadar upazila in Lakshmipur district for the first time. He observed that only few people pay tax. So union parishad couldn’t undertake development through own fund but have to depend on central government or other outer sources. He perceived that people have little interest to give tax since they get little benefit from paying tax. In the mean-time, he got training on Financial Management & Revenue generation with fellow actors under SDLG project implemented in their union in support with Tetra Tech ARD. He realized the importance and mechanisms of local resource mobilization especially tax collection as per provisions of Local Government Act 2009. Then he has initiated efforts through various ways to make understand the people about usefulness of paying tax for local development. He reached the people through discussion at mosques, salishi sittings, courtyard meeting and tax fair where people leant how & where collected money will be spent. In these ways people’s consciousness elevated to a satisfactory level and they started again to pay tax to the union parishad. Capitalizing the resources, Md Mizanur Rahman began development initiatives in the area. People became satisfied seeing the progress and reinforced cooperation in paying tax. So it’s possible to achieve the 100% target of tax collection amounting 146, 300 taka in the fiscal year (2013 – 2014). Getting approval from union parishad, the member has completed repairing and brick-soling of 3 roads expending 75,000 taka as per community’s prioritized need. These advancements make the people to be more interested and supportive to carry out the role of union parishad. Mizan expressed deep gratitude to SDLG project to extend enthusiasm in collecting tax for local development. He cherishes to play consistent effective role in extending increased services and benefits to the people in future through bridging revenue generation and citizen participation.

Trinomul Natoya Dal is the inspiration of grass root theatre artists

Name: Robiul Haque

Age: 24 years

Grass root theatre artist

Robiul Haque is a grassroots theater resource of BITA. Now he is 24 years old. He lives in Pahartoli Master lane in Chittagong. He drops out from education in 2006 when he was a student of S.S.C examination. In 2002 he involved with BITA adolescents theater group when he was 12 years old. As an adolescent he attended several cultural competitions in singing & awarded. He, who once used to be neglected in all sense, is now encouraging others to see dream of life – He is Robiul Haque. Earlier lower-scale of living standard & pervasive poverty leaded him highly to be pessimistic.

BITA’s theatre initiatives he got him the way of betterment to life and dream. He got training on different wings of performing arts and theatre as well as development issue. He performed more than 20 no of grassroots based theatre production and performed about 700 shows which develop on different issue. The remarkable grass root theatre he performed were Khoab, Achol, Samadhan, Porinoti, Akash Chuyae Jai etc. This theater shows performed about at 22 districts in Bangladesh. The issues of their perform play were trafficking, early marriage, women violence, climate change, child labor, workers rights etc. The theatre interaction process capacitated him on the respective issues as well.

Trinomul Natoya Dal’ formed in 2012 by Robiul Haque in Chittagong city at Pahartoli area. By the time the group has been organized to observe world theatre day & developed a few of grassroot theatre. There group faces to stop child marriage in their locality & conduct local level advocacy for ensuring community dustbin. This theater group is leaded by him. He developed his group plan of increased cultural based capacity of group members, theatre making on development & social issues & perform as professional point of view. As a grassroots artist he performed national and international shows with BITA theater core group. Several times he visited abroad performing the proscenium theatre plays of Meenkonya, Megher Vhala. By the time he also capacitated to attend a few of theatre based training on ToT on theatre, process of easy theatre making, script development workshop, music in theatre, life skill, ARH (Adolescent Reproductive Health), CRC (Child Rights Convention), Gender etc. Now he is facilitating theater training in community level with youth groups & life skill training with the Children. Thus, now he could devote himself a theatre activist in development & mainstream theatre level. Now, he is in the wheel of BITA’s interactive group. On the other hand, he received a vocational training on driving. Presently he is driving four wheel vehicles professionally. He further admitted in 2012 with the education in Open University & wises to continue.

Meoi Ching Marma dreams of a bright future

Meoi Ching Marma is 15 years old. She was born in Uzi Mukh Headman Para in the Bandarban Hill District. She was brought up with much care and affection from her parents. She is the second born in a family of three children, one son and two daughters. Her parents have worked hard in jhum (subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology or other tools) cultivation to support the family and pay educational costs. Meoi Ching Marma’s family is very typical of families from the Marma community. Using income from subsistence agriculture, many traditional families, like hers, try to support first generation literacy by helping their children continue to study.

Meoi Ching Marma began studying in the Kollaksmyong Government Primary School. She hoped to build a bright future by getting higher education. She attended classes and prepared her lessons regularly. She enjoyed school and loved the opportunity to play with the other children on the playground. After she completed primary school, she was eager to attend high school. But her father was unable to afford the educational expenses at the distant high school. Meoi Ching was very upset and every day shared her desire to attend high school with her family and her playmates. One day she visited the project’s ICT-training centre and learned about the art and fashion course. She was delighted to learn about this opportunity and discussed the course in detail with Community Mobilizer Aung Thui Ching. She talked with her parents to get their approval to attend the course; her mother especially supported her daughter’s ambitions. Finally, Meoi Ching Marma was admitted into the art and fashion course in the Bandarban ICT Centre, run by BITA.

Meoi Ching Marma worked hard to attend the six month art and fashion course and manage the transportation costs. She attended classes four days a week. The other three days she worked as a day labourer to earn money to pay her transportation costs. She learned how to cut and sew and how to do block printing and screen printing.
Meoi Ching started her own business after she successfully completed the course. She provides sewing services to local customers. She also makes products as part of a group in the ICT centre under the supervision of an ICT Instructor (arts and fashion) and receives wages as part of a profit sharing scheme. She has purchased a sewing machine on an instalment basis and is providing sewing services in return for money. She can pay her own living costs and she is pleased to be independent of her parents. She enjoys being a respected member of her community. She plans to train other girls and employ them in her business. She dreams of a bright future, expanding her business and also creating livelihood opportunities for other girls.

Women circle : A footstep towards women empowerment

BITA puts a lot of emphasis on gender, women rights, and women empowerment in the implementation of its action plan. There is a certain process in which women take part in different activities of BITA. This is called women circle. As an implementing partner of BRAC, BITA is implementing this women circle activities under the project named Safe Migration for Bangladeshi Workers’ Innovation Fund financed by BRAC in seven unions named Kharna, Kochuayai, Chanhara, Vatikhain, South Vurshi, Kelishohor and Haidgaon of Paitya upazila of Chittagong district.

Generally participants take part in group discussions. One facilitator facilitates the whole discussion. These participants take part in the group discussion of the women circle in every 15 days. The discussion mainly centres around safe migration, human trafficking and women rights etc. and it usually lasts approximately one hour. The discussion leads to indentifying the reasons responsible for unsafe migration and to devising and analyzing ways to overcome the problem. Besides, the participants also share their known information with other organizations, local elected representatives of the concerned union parishad. The participants of the women circle tend to increase their active participation in the union parishad while exchanging their information.

The women circles mainly organize the under-privileged and destitute women so that an awareness of their rights can be raised. The women circles also make sure that the grass-root level women are enthusiastic enough to know the correct information of immigration before they leave their country. The participants of women circle of Chanhara union of Patiya Upazilla came to know about the visa verification process at BRAC centre when they had attended one women circle meeting. They also shared the vital information among their relatives, neighbours, and peers. Thus, they discuss and exercise the practical issues of safe migration actively.

At the same time, women circles play a pivotal role in identifying the victims of unsafe migration who have returned home, and in selecting and finalizing their participation in the income generating trainings of the project. Furthermore, the family members of the victims of unsafe migration discuss different issues related to their experiences. As a result of this meeting, participants seriously come to know about the essential and accurate processes which are much needed for safe migration. The participants also know how to send and receive remittance in these discussions. This is how women circles are engaged in creating a more aware bunch of participants.

Inspired Local Government Actor

Ferdous Begum is an elected female Union Parishad (UP), local government institution, member of Baralia Union Parishad under Patiya upazila in Chittagong district. She understands the importance of planning and budgeting process of Union Parishad. She believes that planning with people’s participation leads to better functioning of the UPs.
She observed closely the existing practices of UP’s decision making and service delivery and noticed that UP representatives were not taking decisions collectively with people participation. This system of decision making was not reflecting people’s needs and demands.
Ferdous Begum participated in the meeting, training and orientation programmes, organized by SEBA ( Social Engagement for Budgetary Accountability) project. She remarked, “I feel change within myself through attending the training.” As previous practice, she collected signatures from ward and scheme supervision committee members without briefing them. After training, she sat with (the committee members and oriented them on schemes. She now motivates other UP members to engage community people with their planning. “Consent and cooperation from other members could play vital role in decision making. It’s not ideal and democratic process to take decisions individually. I try my level best to share information on UP Act 2009.” she added.
She feels, it is necessary to engage community people and they must have knowledge about services and functions of Union Parishad. With this realisation she attended different courtyard meetings organised by SEBA project and oriented the members of ward and scheme supervision committees. She discussed services and activities of UP to the audience of that meeting.
It is hoped that the exemplary role of Ferdous Begum, a UP elected member will transmit new momentum in the promotion of transparency, accountability and people’s participation.