Jamal: A change maker of rural Bangladesh
Jamal a boy of 16 has become a change maker in the locality of sarpukur, aditmari sub-district under lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh. He is a president of youth forum-a wing of CBO run by poor people named `union federation’. Presently there are 375 union federations over 9 northern districts in Bangladesh facilitated by RDRS.
In 2012, Jamal came to know about youth forum and warmly engaged with its activities. Youth forum is a platform of youths in between 12-21 age, involving in several social work on emerging issues like- Dropout students, early marriage, dowry, domestic violence, eve teasing, drug addiction, gambling, illiteracy, ill health etc. In 2010, when Jamal was 11 years old, tried to understand why girls of his age are not getting enrolled in the high school. Even, peoples were not interested to send their children in primary schools. Gradually he found, deep rooted poverty compelled parents to engage their children for labor selling. Social insecurity and lack of knowledge on reproductive health encourage people for giving early marriage of their children. Young boys were engaged in different anti-social activities. Jamal has dreamed to reduce the said issues from his childhood and he gets a platform through youth forum for address those. Getting inspired from development messages through federation of GO and NGOs including RDRS Bangladesh, Jamal promised that he will change the disappointing scenario of the society.
Jamal shared his thinking related to these issues with other members of youth forum and also the members of union federation. He also discusses about those issues with local key persons for seeking their supports. Jamal along with his other colleagues prepared an action plan to reduce those social diseases rotationally from the society. According to their plan Jamal along with his forum facilitated a lot of activities like, courtyards sessions with parents & villagers, interactive theater shows at grass roots, household visits, issue-based discussions with key personnel of the locality, orientation to teacher & students in different schools etc. Besides, Jamal organized several debate competitions on several social violence related issues among students. Rather than, Jamal has been running an adult education center in his own household ground where 35 women are getting literacy. He motivated 132drops out students to continue education in different schools & colleges. He is managing a fund for different expenses of those activities by collecting donation from several sources like- Rich men, peoples representatives, government officials, relatives, friends etc. Due to his active engagement in community mobilization, he got elected as a leader of student council of his school. He is also elected as president of youth forum in 2013. Rather than, he is involved with acting in local theater, district champion of debate competition, leader of scouting, member of public library, President of a cooperative, founder president of a kisor-kisori club etc.
Now, Jamal is a popular development actors and Idol for all, especially among the youths all over the lalmonirhat district. He is getting invitation in different meetings, workshops, human chain, day observations etc from different GO & NGO’s for delivering speech which can encourage the other youth especially.
A result focuses synergistic effort leaded by Jamal
Most. Morjina Akhter (14) from a marginalized family wanted to continue her education after getting inspired from Youth Forum Activities, is one of them. But, her family decided to give her marriage. Several days before the wedding, a member of Youth Forum came to know about the upcoming child marriage and launched a coordinated campaign under the leadership of Jamal in a bid to convince the parents to stop the wedding. “I knew child marriage is a harmful practice, because I regularly attend issue-based meetings arranged by the Federation. So, I did not hesitate to act fast,” Jamal says.
“Now Morjina has renewed dreams, she has gone back to school and see her exam results — a respectable grade in her exams given all these hurdles she had to go through,” Jamal further informs.
Like Morjina, 131 attempts of child marriage get stopped. Lot of activities like, courtyards sessions, interactive theatre shows, household visits, issue-based discussions took place by the Youth Forum. Community people are successfully convinced into cancelling the idea of giving child marriage. 132 families are determined to turn down any future marriage proposal until their daughter at least 18 years old. They are happy to send their back to school again.
For Morjina, she plans to continue her study as long as she could do it for free because her father is poor. As she was informed that the government provides every girl student with stipend to support their study cost up to bachelor’s degree level, she smiles shyly and says she would do that.
“Once I finish study, I will take up a job to support my parents and my younger siblings. I will not marry before that. I do not think there will be a problem to manage a good job if I get fair grades all through,” with a confident, Morjina says narrating her future plan.
Members of Youth Forum are happy about their success. Always they are getting inspiration from their leader Jamal. In the coming days, they are thinking to expand their activities out of their union territory.