Political awakening in the community
Political awakening in the community
Stromme Foundation, Bangladesh 7. November 2016
Now it has been just over a year ago Foundation’s new project in Bangladesh started. How has it gone so far with the aim of reducing poverty, promoting the rights of girls, more children in school and improve your health?
Text: Teresa Grøtan
Photo: RDRS / SF
Among the indigenous population in the district of Dinajpur stops many children to school because they do not speak Bengali. Parents are often unaware of the importance of education, and girls are often married off very early. Many people are here denied the same opportunities as the majority population in Bangladesh.
Challenges in Bangladesh are moreover increasingly radicalized political climate. At local level, violence, discrimination and distrust impedes development.
Project Socio Economic Empowerment with Dignity and Sustainability (SEEDS) works to look at all these issues and to help ensure that families can lift themselves out of poverty and illiteracy. Stromme Foundation is Norwegian project partner, while RDRS Bangladesh stands for the work locally. RDRS has for many years been SF local partner in Bangladesh and has an extensive work for nearly two million people.
– Stromme Foundation works from a decentralized model for the best possible way to contribute effectively development. We do this based on the idea that people concerned themselves should be involved in their own development. When we rely on locally rooted knowledge and experience, which we receive through cooperation with local partners who RDRS. SEEDS program is a well refined model based on local knowledge and long experience of development assistance. SEEDS creates change, and without Kavli Trust would not have been possible, says Rune Morland in SF.
The involved families have made their own Family Development Plans (FDP) to visualize what they want for the future. Most families started with small initiatives to start saving, raising chicken, creating a kitchen garden and more. The year after the project was started, reported 16 percent of families had doubled its revenue after they had worked on the basis of their own family plans.
Several of the families have organized themselves into groups. Thus they can together address common challenges and solve them. Such as specific a group to buy the goods that soup, oils, salt and other public so that they could get cheaper prices. Another group took hold of alcohol abuse in the village, and has managed to reduce abuse through to take it up for discussion and agree to stop the sale of alcohol.
According RDRS these groups proved to be effective watchdogs against discrimination and to be good intermediary between communities and governments. They also have been good to increase interest in doing business and to build unity in the community.
The groups have also led to political awareness:
– I was active in our local group and got the role of Community Service Provider. It gave me the opportunity to help the poorest in the village. The whole group my encouraged me to exhibit in the local elections. I was elected member of the Union Parishad with a large number of votes from my village. This had never been possible without the support from the group, tells Mokul Rani Prahan.
Schools and Shonglap groups
The same support groups have also been involved in the public schools, and nearly 4,000 children from poor families receive extra support. The groups are also engaged in making school life better for children through improved teaching.
During this period, also 23 preschools have been established for 465 children from 5 years of age. In preschool children receive education in their mother tongue. It has been established eleven so-called bridge schools to help students who have dropped out of the public schools to catch up in order to start regular schooling again.
Several new Shonglap groups have also been established. Shonglap’s own girl groups where they discuss issues related to being young girl, what they can do to improve their situation and to promote the rights of girls in society and family.
– Due to lack of knowledge I quit school when I last was 12 years. Now I’m back again thanks to what I learned to Shonglap says Rajani Hasda.
(The article has been translated from Norwegian language. For the original article please visit the following link http://kavlifondet.no/2016/11/politisk-oppvakning-i-lokalsamfunnet/#.WCB2a-1yYfU.facebook)