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had never existed? Probably our species would lose all chance of youth sustainability now the UN has admitted it has 17 goals but no financial access -firstname.lastname@example.org
Sultana Rural Civil Society Member BRAC Across Bangladesh, BRAC operates more than 280,000 village organizations, 12,000 community forums, and nearly 800 district level forums. All these groups are dedicated to supporting poor women in their goal to improve their lives and that of their communities. Every week 8.45 million women across Bangladesh attend their BRAC meetings to receive loans, understand their rights, and claim their entitlements. One woman describes how BRAC has enabled her to defend her own and other women’s rights and become a leader for her community. Sultana has felt the frustrations of poverty, abandonment, and inequity, and knows what it takes to overcome them. BRAC's social development program allowed Sultana to act on a determination to transform herself and her community. Every day, Sultana fights battles for those who cannot fight for themselves, continually inspired by her recollections of injustice. As a twelve year old girl, having just started fifth grade, Sultana was forced to drop out of school to marry a man she did not know. Throughout her marriage, Sultana suffered mental and physical abuse. One day, when Sultana was seventeen, her husband stopped coming home. "He just stopped paying my costs," Sultana recalls, "and then he married another woman even though I was still here." Sultana was left to fend for herself without money, education, or employment. Refusing to be a victim, Sultana approached BRAC's Human Rights and Legal Services Program to file a lawsuit against her husband. "I was very young and I didn't understand how the process was going to work," Sultana remembers, "but I went to them and I told them my complaints." Sultana's assertiveness was rewarded. She won the case, and now her former husband provides her with financial support. Intent on establishing her independence, Sultana joined a village organization and started a tailoring business with a loan from BRAC. Though her life was now stable, she knew deep within herself that more needed to be done: "I still felt the pain from when my husband tortured me, and I realized that there must be many other women who still feel that same pain." This realization opened an important chapter in Sultana's life. She discovered a frightening pattern of violence and suppression affecting women throughout her community. "I went through the village and started speaking to many women, I learned about their pain and frustration." Sultana had fought her own battle, now she was going to start fighting for her community. Sultana helped BRAC start a Polli Shomaj, a committee to defend the rights of the poor, in her village. With a burning desire to help the abused women of her community, Sultana took advantage of this opportunity: "I made sure that we started the Polli Shomaj so that no other women could be tortured like this". The Polli Shomaj proved its value to the village by exposing and solving cases of domestic violence. “[At first] people in the village didn't understand the work that we were doing, they didn't like it that we were bringing women out of the house,” she says. “But now people listen to us and talk to us," Sultana says, "people search for us to speak of their problems." Another recurrent issue that Sultana fights is the lack of transparency within the local government. Although challenging government corruption is a complicated and difficult task, Sultana uses the power of the Polli Shomaj to mobilize groups of women to fight for their government entitlements. Sultana has also joined the district level community group, the Union Shomaj, which connects women leaders in the same area so they have greater influence in local politics. "They were selling away our opportunities," Sultana said. "We now have formed a group to make sure we know about these opportunities...the chairman can ignore one voice; ten voices make the chairman listen." Sultana is proud to pave the way for many rural Bangladeshi women who are claiming their rights for the first time. Firmly focused on the future, Sultana is confident that her Union Shomaj has the dedication and the support that it needs to continue to build momentum. "Alone, we don't have any weapons to fight our battle, but with BRAC we can. They are our arms," she says. Sultana fights for her community every day: "We can definitely win this war. We are trying everything to win this war... We will try forever.
Shamima Community Health Worker BRAC BRAC’s award winning national health program covers a target population of 98 million people with essential health care services, maternal, neonatal and child health initiatives, tuberculosis and malaria control, and water, sanitation and hygiene implementation. The extensiveness of BRAC’s reach is possible through its network of 74,000 all women community health volunteers and 6,300 community health workers who make 18 million home visits every month. One community health worker explains why she decided to join BRAC and help improve the health of Bangladesh’s rural villagers. Four years ago, Shamima chose to give her life a new purpose. She had a supportive husband and a growing son, but she spent all of her time in the home. She craved more responsibility and wanted an opportunity to become a leader in the community. She also wanted to spend time helping local women and their families. Then she heard about BRAC. She was inspired by their mission to bring healthcare to rural families and applied to become a Shasthya Kormi - a community health worker. What began as a personal goal of empowerment and life improvement has now transformed her community and improved the health of families throughout the region. Shamima feels highly respected whenever she walks into a village. “I love how people come running to talk with me and ask how I am,” she shares. She meets with groups of village women everyday and helps them with their immediate health concerns. She also makes sure to take the time to build personal relationships with the women. As she empowers others with knowledge and selfesteem, Shamima gains their trust and friendship in return. “Everyone has accepted me very well,” she says, “The women of the communities praise me for my work.” Shamima also visits 25 individual households each day to provide families with primary healthcare. By teaching women to promote good health practices and delivering services and medical supplies, she ensures the wellbeing of the entire community. “It is our practice to talk with women so much that now whenever we talk, we become very connected,” Shamima says. “Women can share their problems with other women so they open up to us and accept us willingly.” Without Shamima’s work, the medical options for community members are limited. The government hospitals are often inaccessible and overcrowded, and the private clinics are too expensive. Shamima goes straight to the patient. From within a patient’s home she monitors health, provides treatment, and contacts BRAC clinics for more severe health concerns – especially complications in pregnancy. “People rely on BRAC because we can take medicine to their door,” Shamima explains. “We ensure that they get services.” Shamima has changed her own life by changing the lives of others. She is thankful for her ability to impact the community and for the purpose that it gives her in return. “As long as I am alive,” she shares, “if I can continue with my work as a Shasthya Kormi, I will be happy.”
Mohammed Baset Legal Aid Lawyer BRAC BRAC’s human rights and legal services department has to date provided legal education to 3.5 million poor women in Bangladesh and operates the largest NGO legal aid service in the world. The legal aid clinics help BRAC members as well as poor non-members of the community resolve their conflicts through either Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or the formal legal system. BRAC staff lawyers take action when court procedures are required. One such lawyer, Mohammad Baset, explains his role and success in seeking justice for vulnerable women and children. “Guilty.” Upon hearing the judge’s ruling, Mohammad Baset smiled with joy and relief. He had worked towards this verdict for three years and with a single word his effort was validated. For Mohammad and his fellow lawyers at BRAC’s Legal Aid Clinic, there is no better feeling than helping the powerless and voiceless claim their rights. Today they had done just that, gaining justice for a seven-year old girl who was raped three years ago. Originally a trial lawyer in the criminal courts, Mohammad left his high-paying job to work for BRAC and speak for those who had no voice. “I wanted to work for people who were unable to defend themselves,” he remembers. Now he assists local poor citizens in cases of divorce, alimony, and child support. “I like arranging settlements by helping people talk to each other,” he says. In the past decade, his team has assisted in 4,238 cases winning 9.3 million taka (USD 135,000) in alimony and financial support for poor women who once thought they would not receive anything. “The biggest reward of my job is seeing the huge smiles on the women’s faces when they finally receive their due.” Mohammad says that BRAC has developed a strong reputation among communities, lawyers, and state officials. BRAC independently evaluates all complaints it receives, confirming that victims’ claims are valid and that their evidence is compelling. “Judges are confident in our arguments,” and as a result,” Mohammad notes, “We usually receive a good verdict.” In addition to domestic cases, Mohammad is currently representing 36 victims of human rights violations, victims who would otherwise never receive justice. He tells of two girls who were attacked by a rich villager’s son. When the parents of the girls looked to the village council for help, their claims were ridiculed and dismissed. In another case, Mohammad represented a young girl who was raped by her two cousins on the way home from a meeting with her tutor. Doctors eventually needed to remove her uterus, rendering her incapable of ever having children. Mohammad explains that the difficult nature of these cases not only creates a great emotional burden for the victims and their loved ones, but that these cases are also a financial strain on families. Cases can take three or four years to resolve, and victims are often socially stigmatized, and struggle to regain a normal life. BRAC provides comprehensive services including medical treatment, psychological rehabilitation, financial opportunity, and social support to the victims and their families, while also dedicating a team of researchers, trial lawyers, and community workers to ensure that the trial is handled fairly. Mohammad is humbled by the support his team has received from the people and communities they help. BRAC’s legal aid focuses exclusively on serving those in need and does not take any money from their clients. Mohammad says money is not a motivating issue because the lawyers are constantly encouraged by the tremendous local praise and encouragement that they receive. “BRAC is highly regarded and esteemed in the community,” he says. “We feel like we can take on anything.” The hard work of Mohammad and his team has had a tremendous impact. 78 of the 82 rape cases his district has handled have received favorable verdicts, which make him optimistic for the future. “The cases are hard,” he says, “but we now have the confidence and the mental strength to take any case and fight for it.” Mohammad loves his job because he knows he is making a positive impact daily, both for individuals and for Bangladesh as a whole. “I’ve seen way too many unfair cases, and something needs to be done about it,” Mohammad states. “We provide a platform and a voice for the people. I want to leave Bangladesh in a better place for my son than it was for me.”
Robia Khatun Village Organization Member BRAC
At the centre of BRAC’s approach are village organizations (VOs) – each with 30-40 members. These village organizations meet weekly to distribute loans, collect repayments and savings contributions, and raise awareness on many social, legal and personal issues affecting the everyday lives of poor women. New member, Robia Khatun, describes how the microfinance and human rights education she received helped her to leave poverty behind and assist others in the community. In the last twelve months, Robia Khatun has built a vegetable garden, taught her community about legal rights, and purchased her first pair of shoes. Twelve months ago, these were distant dreams when Robia was struggling every day to provide for her nine children. Robia's participation in BRAC's programs allowed her to move beyond that past. She has taken advantage of new opportunities to turn life around for her family and to invest in a brighter future for her village. A year ago, Robia could not gain access to financial credit. “Other organizations rejected me. They told that I was too poor and that I would not be able to repay the loans,” she said. “But BRAC didn’t do that. They gave me a loan and trained me on how to plant potatoes, chilies, and other vegetables.” Robia took advantage of her training and invested her 6,000 taka (USD 90) loan to cultivate vegetables and sell them at the local market, and has used her profits to dramatically raise her family's standard of living. "There were times when I didn’t even have enough rice to cook one full meal a day," she said. "Now that I am a part of BRAC, I can cook three meals or more a day for me and my nine children. That is why I am happy now.” Having found happiness in providing for her family, Robia pushed to further life enhancement by graduating from BRAC’s human rights and legal education course. She gained the knowledge and confidence to fight traditional pressures such as paying dowry and marrying children at a very early age. “I can now work to stop these problems," she said, "I’ll let my sons and daughters marry when they are of proper age and I will not pay a single penny on dowries.” Robia is realizing the extent to which her education on human rights and legal services has given her the power to help her community in the same way in which she is helping her family. Robia is especially proud that she no longer feels hopeless when she hears about cases of domestic violence. "Before, I would see these problems, but I couldn’t do anything because I didn’t know about legal rights,” she explained. “Now I know much more and I can help others in my community.” Robia has used her human rights education and access to BRAC's microfinance program to transform life for her family. She is now inspired to share her knowledge and provide help to the families that still do not understand their rights and opportunities. "I have more courage and I feel even my heart is stronger," she says.
Futiker Ma Ultra Poor Program Member BRAC Futiker spent many years isolated and in despair after she was abandoned by her family and ignored by her community. Today, she is working her way out of extreme poverty after joining BRAC’s ground breaking ultra poor program. This two year program provides her with free assets – such as cows and goats for livestock rearing – free health care, business training, a small living allowance, and access to flexible small loans to expand her business. She is one of more than 800,000 ultra poor households that will benefit from the program over the next five years. All the women on the ultra poor program are widowed, abandoned or have husbands who are unable to work. In Futiker’s case, she was abandoned by her husband when he became mentally ill and disappeared, her son was only ten years old but they managed to cope together. After her son married, she was finally reduced to begging to survive. “My son and I used to stay and eat together," she says, "but after he married he couldn’t give me food and I had to eat by begging from door to door.” In July 2008, BRAC field staff visited her village and invited the whole community to attend their local Participatory Rural Appraisal meeting, which is designed to map out a village and identify extremely poor households in dire need of assistance. BRAC has developed a set of five criteria to determine whether an individual qualifies as being ultra poor. If a woman fulfills at least three of these, she is eligible for the program. Futiker fulfilled four criteria, as her household did not have an active male member, had no productive assets, owned less than ten decimals of land, and was dependent on begging as the only source of income. She joined the program and was given a weekly living allowance that allowed her to stop begging and start rebuilding her life. She also had the choice of which type of productive assets she received so she could start earning a stable income. “It was my choice to have a cow and two goats because I expect that they will give me a lot of money," she said. "I will be able to eat and maybe save some money too.” To make sure that Futiker will be able to use her assets to their full potential, BRAC provides technical assistance and training on how to successfully rear livestock. As she says, “the BRAC man comes to my house every Tuesday and teaches me about my cow and goats”. Futiker will be supported and advised over the next two years to make sure that she is making progress and becoming self-reliant. She has embraced the chance to improve her life, relishing the opportunity to forge a way out of the poverty and misery she had experienced. “I’m able to feed my goats and my cow in the morning, afternoon, and at night," she says, with a firm sense of pride. "I bought this food."
Ahki WASH Teenager BRAC BRAC is working to improve water supplies and sanitation facilities in schools and communities, and promote safe hygiene practices across Bangladesh. Promoting safe hygienic behavior helps break the contamination cycle of unsanitary latrines, contaminated water, and water borne communicable diseases. One determined BRAC teenager explains why she is so committed to helping the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Program (WASH) achieve its goals. Though only fourteen years old, Ahki is already a leader in her community. Education has helped define Akhi’s vision for the future and instilled in her a sense of responsibility. Through involvement in BRAC programs, Ahki gained the opportunity to improve life for herself and people in her village. She now teaches people in her community how to live safer and healthier lives. When Ahki was five years old, her village had no school and she wondered if she would ever receive an education. Since then, she has been able to take advantage of the opportunities BRAC has given her to become a well-rounded, educated young person. She attended a primary school that BRAC built in her village until she was ten. After finishing primary school, she joined BRAC's adolescent development program, where twice a week she joins other girls to study, share stories, and learn from one another in a safe place. She is also currently attending a public secondary school where BRAC runs a WASH program to encourage hygienic behavior. BRAC teaches students healthy habits and provides the school with resources to encourage a healthier way of life. When Ahki first went to the school, students had to use a dirty, broken toilet, but this changed when BRAC started the WASH program. “Because of WASH," says Ahki, "there is a new toilet in our common room and the toilet and hand pump are kept clean.” WASH has ensured a sanitary environment at her school and this has inspired Ahki to use her knowledge to create a lasting impact within the community. She encourages her classmates to reduce their personal risk of contracting diseases by implementing WASH habits at home and in their daily lives. “My parents are now much more aware of sanitation issues and I have also talked with my neighbors,” she says, speaking of her success in spreading the message of WASH. “I explain the benefits of keeping clean.” BRAC has been a part of Akhi’s life for more than eight years and promises to support her as she continues to pursue her dreams. She thanks BRAC for giving her opportunities to help others and increase her knowledge and empower herself. “If I ever get the chance to work for BRAC in the future, I will definitely do that,” she said. “It is important to make the people of our country more aware about cleanliness.”
Brac events include
Socio-psychological Status of TUP BeneficiariesRumana Ali, Nahida Akter, Towhida Islam and Taznim Jahan SukhiDate: 19 June 2016; Time: 01:30 to 02:30 pm; Venue: RED Conference Room (15th Floor)Research Proposal PresentationAbstractTargeting the Ultra Poor (TUP) is one of the mainstream development services of BRAC. The aim of TUP is to assist the ultra-poor to improve their livelihoods and bring about positive changes in succeeding economic, social and inspiring changes. Initiated ....
|welcome from email@example.com Who do you learn from most? 40 years ago - I co-authored 2025report.com - searching for world's partners in sustainability. After 9/11 I nearly gave up until my friends and I came across Fazle Abed and a billion Asian women's work since 1972. After 15 trips to Bangladesh here's a catalogue of extraordinary partners in sustainability and transforming education||..|