Me and my wife are just back from a week long trip to couple of towns in far north of the country called Saidpur and Rangpur. For the last two and half years, by the help of Allah, we have been granted limited ability to do some small work in that region.
Among these works include providing small capital to help the poor and marginal buy livestock, to purchase goods for their village shop, to train them with new skills, purchase of sewing machine and under the Project ZamZam we installed tube-well in a number of location to ensure clean water. All of these were immensely beneficial for the beneficiaries since this part of Bangladesh is prone to severe poverty and less developed than other parts.
These works were made possible through your generous donation and I convey my heartfelt thanks on behalf of all beneficiaries to you all who contributed.
We were also able to do this because by Allah's help we found a very helpful man, Zikrul Haq who coordinated these works for Porshee on the ground. He has proven himself to be trustworthy and at the same time is equipped with the necessary experience due to his previous works with other development agencies. We are very much grateful to Mr Zikrul for his support for last three years and we hope to have him beside us in the future as well.
The way the opportunity to work in the northern Bangladesh was opened to us is worth sharing here.
About almost three years ago I received a message from a reader of Technology of the Heart who read a news on the newspaper about the family of Nazrul Islam from Saidpur, a town in northern Bangladesh. The news featured about the family's challenging situation since they were not only very poor but also had most of its family members suffering from severe low vision. Except the mother, all the family members, that is father and three children are visually impaired.
The reader contacted me, hoping that I may make some contacts to the family and hence could help them. I did and then I came to know the family, particularly Mohochona, the mother who is the only able member of the family who is not handicapped and she is the sole earner for the family of five.
Through course of time through the donation collected by our friend in Australia, we could help the family. They were given funds to purchase livestocks such as hen, goat and cow. Now they have two cows and can sell eggs and milk regularly. Recently they were also provided capital to establish a small village shop which we visited in our recent visit and we were happy to see it doing well. She requested for some funds to purchase new goods for this shop and we were happy to allocate her that from Porshee, from your generous donations.
|Mohochona, sitting at her village shop with her daugther. The shop get new funding for renewing sellable goods|
All praise be to His Who makes some of us His ears through which we may hear pleas, His hearts through which generosity flows and His hands through which He distributes whomsoever He wills.
During our visit we also went to meet a group of young men and women who have received training sponsored by Porshee that taught them embroidery work. Now they get regular work from big cities whereas they produce these find embroidered sharees that are worn at weddings.
|They make beautiful dresses, but very poorly paid. How we can help marketing their products is what Porshee is thinking|
|Detail view of the intricate works|
But that is not all. We heard the sad story that they only get a very nominal amount for all their hardwork, whereas the middleman and the retailers grab almost 90% of the profit. These poor people are given less than 10% of the final price as their wage and thus made into quasi-voluntary slaves. While visiting their households and speaking to them I have found the following:
a) These people are so poor that they never send their children to school. They dont understand the value of education, thus even those children who are sent to school, drop out after grade 3 or 4
b) They are heavily exploited because of their poverty and paid very little for their work. They also dont have any mechanism to market their products
c) They live in camps/ slums with very poor understanding of cleanliness and health issues, thus they often end up spending lot of money in medical bills
d) The women are specially vulnerable. Because of economic and cultural reason they are given into marriage at a very early age, when they are barely 16 to 18, even though legal age for marriage for girls here is 18. Also due to lack to awareness these ladies suffer in different stages of their life, such as pregnancy.
So I have spoken to some good hearted local people who understand the challenges and suffering of these people and with their assistance I am contemplating the following as action plan on behalf of Porshee.
i) Porshee will continue to organize relevant training to update the work skills of these people to help them earn enough money to live a decent life. Coming out of extreme poverty is a high priority that needs to be realized.
ii) Porshee with the experience of other development organizations will develop a special curriculum for the young and adolescent to adult women of these camps because educating and enlightening the women, the future mother can benefit much in long run. They will be given lifeskill teachings, health related education such as how to take care of themselves during pregnancy and after childbirth etc., a high risk time that may cost a family much fortune due to ignorance.
This special curriculum will be informal, holistic and will also incorporate basic spiritual teachings of their native religion so that they are not only concerned about materialistic things but also get nourishment for their soul, get a sense of purpose in life as well as be motivated to be a good human being, above all things.
In the next post I will share, by Allah's help, couple of case studies which will also provide you some ideas how you can also be part of this work, if your heart feel inspired to do so.
I will be looking for sadaqa (charity/ donation), zakat funds, those who are interested in sadaqa zariyya (charity that brings perpetual blessings) and also any help that can help market the products made by these people.
|Children drinking from a Tubewell Installed by Porshee Foundation, Saidpur, Nilphamari, Bangladesh|
The greatest prayer of all is to serve humanity.
~ Saying of the Messenger, peace and blessings to his noble soul
adat bajuz khidmat-e-khalq neest
ba tasbih-o-sajjadah-o-dalq neest
- Shaykh Sadi
- Shaykh Sadi
Without selfless service to creation, prayer means nothing
It is not counting beads, sitting on the mat or wearing tatters.
God's people are not to accumulate stuff for tomorrow but to share indiscriminately with the scandalous and holy confidence that God will provide for tomorrow. Then we need not stockpile stuff in barns or a 401(k), especially when there is someone in need. ~ Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?
The bread which you hold back belongs to the hungry; the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked; the footwear mouldering in your closet belongs to those without shoes. The silver that you keep hidden in a safe place belongs to the one in need. Thus, however many are those whom you could have provided for, so many are those whom you wrong.
~ Saint Basil
Poverty is the worst form of violence.
~ Mahatma Gandhi