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Kulsums

and Karims
Cheif Editor
Saiful Islam Robin

Editor
Anirudha Alam

With
SM Shahidul Islam
Sharif Ahsanul Kabir

BEES (Bangladesh Extension Education Services)


2

Kulsums
and Karims
(A Collection of Success Stories of the Disadvantaged People)
Cheif Editor
Saiful Islam Robin
Editor
Anirudha Alam
With
SM Shahidul Islam
Sharif Ahsanul Kabir
Published by
Information & Development Communication Cell
BEES (Bangladesh Extension Education Services)
183 Eastern Road, Lane 2, New DOHS, Dhaka, Bangladesh
First Published
September 2006
Ashwin 1413
Price
Tk.250
US $ 12
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To the Kulsums & Karims


who are by and large destitute & disadvantaged
from their salad days and now struggling to attain
the high water mark of success in
making themselves self reliant
contributing to national socio-economic uplift.
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Foreword

BEES (Bangladesh Extension Education Services), a non governmental organization, has been
engaged in social development and poverty alleviation programme in Bangladesh having a vision
of ensuring a just society where men and women together can enjoy higher and sustainable
standard of living. In line with its vision of a society based on self-reliance and sustainable
economy, BEES has always been forward with its multifaceted development programmes
encompassing mainly the disadvantaged and destitute group of people in our society. The poor
and downtrodden unskilled people particularly the women- the most neglected section of the
society being the target group of BEES, have been obviously focused in its programmes. These
neglected group of people are very much known to us – the well-off class of the society. We
undermine them in many ways, define their lot without sympathy, and they live around us being
known as Kulsums and Karims.

BEES has long been engaged in the field of social development with a series of programmes
targeting to ameliorate the sufferings of the Kulsums and Karims. Micro-finance, Poultry and
Livestock, Education, Health, MCH-FP and Nutrition are some of the programme components
that BEES has been implementing in different parts of the country covering its target people. The
very vulnerable group of people who are prominently known as Kulsums and Karims in our
surroundings are being benefited in many ways with the implementation of various programmes.
But BEES realizes that poverty alleviation or reduction is a very complex task especially under
the prevailing social-economic and political situation. Equally with long experiences, BEES,
with its limited resources, has been contributing tirelessly to bring about a change in the lot of
the poor and destitute people particularly the women, who are at the risk of extinction losing all
of their resources. With the cooperation and help rendered by BEES with its credit plus services
through Seba Package, a markable number of disadvantaged people have been able to change
their lot. This publication is a documentary having a compilation of a series of success-cases
while it reflects the facts how the Kulsums and Karims in the society have been able to change
their lot being guided and directed by the development initiatives of BEES. Kulsums and the
Karims is addition to our first publication Kulsums in the year 2004 while the cases regarding the
success of many destitute women in changing their lot were documented. But BEES realizes that
there are the male people also echo maintain the same margin of economic crisis, and they
should also be highlighted as they are being covered in various programmes having a markable
success to be highlighted to others.

Thanks to them who have worked hard in the various stages to bring this publication into light. I
also take the opportunity to convey my sincere thanks and gratitude to all our donors, partners
relevant stakeholders, and the staff and all the members of BEES for their support and
cooperations.

Finally, I hope this effort to publish the case study on the success of Kulsums and Karims will
inspire others in their struggle for survival and a brighter future.

21 August 2006 Saiful Islam Robin


Executive Director
BEES
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Preface

BEES believes that poverty is not only due to lack of income or employment but also a complex
syndrome manifested in a variety of dimensions. Hence, BEES effort is to promote income or
employment generation through different development initiatives. In this line BEES strives to
bring the destitute and the disadvantaged women and men under its development umbrella
forming homogeneous groups to facilitate a sustainable change within the society through social
as well as economic emancipation. Under this development process BEES has had its satisfaction
as a markable number of the poor people have been able to get rid of the vicious cycle of
poverty. There are many more references among the BEES beneficiaries who have become the
examples of success in the society being guided under various development drives of BEES.

Kulsums and the Karims is a compilation of case studies on those who have achieved success in
their hard struggle in life to shelve the curse of poverty and begin to move to a new horizon of
hope and glow of light. These people, who are known as Kulsums and Karims because of their
poor economic and social status, represent the millions belonging to the same strata of life. These
people are lagging due to want of food, clothing, shelter, education and health. They have no
place and position in the society. They lack power to speak out of their societal rights. These are
the very common sufferings of the Kulsums and Karims because they don’t have enough money
to live on and they lack of getting loans from financial institutions without collateral security.
This is an impediment on their way of becoming self-reliant through income generating
activities. Like the economic crisis the Kulsums and Karims are not free from the societal
discrimination. Deprivation and oppression of the women folk in the name of religious and social
values is still very much frequent. In reality they don’t have equal social and human rights.

Under this grim scenario BEES, being an NGO, has been working for a long time addressing the
disadvantaged section of the population especially the women, children and men in different
parts of Bangladesh to ameliorate their suffering by providing them with loan, life skill training,
advice and endeavouring to reduce their poverty through income generating activities. The
different 11 success stories contained in this Book echo the same spirit of the characters while
they make it clear about their sufferings and finally become self-reliant being provided with the
development assistance of BEES. The characters uphold their sufferings that they used to feel
extremely undermined as they had been treated like beggars only for their poor economic
condition. Even they used to feel their life as burden as they couldn’t arrange food and other
necessities for their children and the family. Similarly the cases share the secrets how the
characters finally got rid of their pains and sufferings being addressed by the development drives
of BEES. Not only BEES has provided them with the credit facilities, rather it has given them
the direction to utilize the money effectively. Imparting various life skill training and orientation
of different development programmes are the key means that have guided the characters of this
Book achieving a stable condition in their families and in the society. As Porisker Begum
articulates that it was not a matter of a day rather gradually she had attained the eligibility for
taking the loan from the samity. Activating its micro-finance services by means of group
formation, regular courtyard-session, training and orientation, BEES has stimulated their zeal for
economic and social emancipation. Besides Micro-finance Programme, Seba Package ensuring
credit plus services as well as Human Resource Development & Occupational Skills
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Development Programme are in the fold of BEES which have guided the characters in this Book
achieving the target of poverty reduction.

In the case-study aspects like difference between previous and present income and amount of
expenditure, savings, life-status, dimensions of income generating activities, promotion of
perceptions to be self-reliant, potential graduation due to social and economic empowerment,
achievement in the context of desired goal and future initiatives, awareness growing about
education, re-productive health, gender equity, environment conservation, nutrition, healthcare,
etc have been highlighted. It has been very evidently reflected in the cases that the well off
families did not care for these characters since they were very poor. As some of the characters
disclose that nobody used to invite them to any social event like marriage and other ceremonies.
They had no say in their community; neither anybody cared for their opinion in any social event.
They remained neglected and deprived from the community even with the close relatives. But
when the community has found these people self-reliant, income earning, standing on their own
foot and continuing with progress in livelihoods like food, cloths and they now have some skills
on reading and writing, their community has started to honour them and their presence in
different fora. The income earning successes with the help of BEES has changed the lot of these
characters tremendously, and they have become enthusiastic, active and participatory in their
family and in the community decision-making process and other social events. The Book reflects
light on these issues very vividly while it also has become a documentary of the fact how these
characters have become morally high enough to speak out their socio-economic rights to the
local level bodies and to the community leaders. They now hold the stand and courage to inspire
others to struggle and fight for their rights with hard working, so that they also can be successful
to stand on their own foot leaving behind their identity as Kulsums and Karims.

Any suggestion or opinion for further enrichment of the programme in the light of these case
studies will be highly appreciated. We sincerely wish this Book will be a rich document to
inspire others to change their life pattern. We hope, development activists, researchers,
sociologists, academicians and planners will find this publication of some use for guiding
towards a pragmatic social change.

Anirudha Alam
Assistant Director
(Information & Development Communication)

21 August 2006
7

Porisker’s Determination to a Vision

I’ve no pain but only hope and dream

I’m now economically better of than ever before. There is no scarcity of food and cloth in my
family now-a-days. Now I’ve a cemented floor tin-shed house to live in. Whereas, I had to pass
days in acute poverty and starvation with my husband and children. During rainy season, water
used to pour inside my house, a shed built with only six number of C.I. sheets. With the little
income of my husband, our days somehow passed by.

Porisker Begum is a 36-year old woman, stands in front of her house having a big smile. She
smiles on her happiness wining a tremendous fight over poverty. Porisker Begum is a group
member of Gokul Nagar Mohila Samity of BEES in Narsingdi. Gokul Nagar, a small village
lacking any sign of development and urbanization, is situated in Raipura upazila under Narsingdi
district in Bangladesh. Agriculture is the main occupation of the village people although a small
number of them are engaged in some other petty jobs. Majority of the villagers live below
poverty line though there are some well to do farmers also living in the village.

Md. Kabir Hossain, husband of Porisker Begum, is an irregular helper of bus-service. They have
four daughters and a son. The children were not in the habit of going to school. Their position in
the society was very low. Porisker Begum wished to bring a change in their distressed condition.
But she couldn’t find any visible way open out this economic impasse. Just during this condition
of the family, their neighbour Bilkis Begum gave her direction about a new way, a light of hope,
to become member of Gokul Nagar Mohila Samity (Women’s Association) of BEES. The samity
aims at bringing sustainable changes in the lives of the poor, illiterate and unskilled people
especially the women by empowering and enhancing their socio-economic capacities through
Rural Development Programmes. The samity members also pursue multidimensional
programmes like Micro-enterprise, Poultry and Livestock, Agriculture & Social Forestry,
Education, Health, MCH FP, Nutrition, Urban Poor Development and so on.

The idea moved Porisker Begum immensely. She went to BEES office and thus could do
something with a view to reducing poverty of the family. She also discussed with her husband
about the matter. Taking consent from the husband, she joined Gokul Nagar Mohila Samity.
Thus she began her new life. Porisker Begum says, “In my days of hardship, the staff of BEES
encouraged me a lot by advising and helping me on many facilities of becoming a samity
member. Completing all the formalities I became a member of the Gokul Nagar Mohila Samity
with full confidence”, Porisker Begum narrates the story of her becoming a samity member.
Becoming a member of the samity Porisker Begum started to deposit her savings in the samity.
Maintaining all other formalities Porisker Begum took the first loan of Taka 3,000 from the
samity. She narrates, “Adding my loan money with my hard work I managed to buy a cow. Then
there was one cow with a calf in my shed. I had a future plan to build a diary-farm by my own”.
Porisker Begum started stepping into a new dream of brighter future. By selling cow-milk only,
she started earning Taka 3,750 per month. Day by day, the calf was also becoming bigger in size.
Porisker Begum was very conscious about taking care of the calf and the cow as she got the
training and advice of cow rearing from BEES. The loan from BEES helped her like anything in
purchasing the cow. She opines, “It’s not a matter of day rather gradually I attained the eligibility
for taking this loan gradually”. Joining the Samity, she first accumulated saving in the collective
fund. When an amount was saved after depositing little by little, she applied for a loan for the
8

first time. With this money she bought a cow. After fattening the cow, she sold it. This brought
her a profit to the margin of Taka 2,500. Meanwhile, she reimbursed the loan money and took a
loan of Taka 5,000 for the second time.

With the second loan money, Porisker Begum took agreement of a piece of land. The couple
along with their children started working very hard on the land and with great toil produced
paddy, bean, various kinds of kitchen vegetables and sweet pumpkin. They earned a lot of money
by selling all these in the market. This brought solvency in the family and new dresses of
children replaced the old and shabby ones, and arrangements were made for the education of
children. At this point her two daughters started going to school. After paying back the loan, she
got a loan of Taka 8,000 for the third time.

With the third loan Porisker Begum bought a cow, and selling milk much was earned. Again she
sold the cow and the calf and further bought a cow with a calf. It became easy for her to repay
the loan by selling the cow milk. In this way through repeated buying and selling of cows and
calfs, Porisker Begum became able to earn some extra money with which she could bring some
change and progress in various spheres of the family. She now owns a sanitary latrine including
Tubewell in her home. All the members of the family now enjoy a better life style.

Porisker Begum took a loan of Taka 10,000. As she was always conscious and keen in repaying
loans timely it became possible for her to take further a loan of Taka 12,000. After getting the
loan, she again took agreement of a land. Cow and poultry rearing side by side taking land
agreement and hard labour done by all of her family members has brought remarkable success
for the family. Now there’s smile of happiness in the tired face of Porisker Begum. That is why
she can utter, as to family level, “I’ve no pain but only hope and dream. Economic prosperity has
been followed by peace and happiness in my family”. The difference is clearly stated by the
following comparative observation of the earning and expenditure of the family at present:

A. Monthly income after being a member of BEES:


Source of Income Amount (Tk.)
Selling of Cow Milk 3,000
Poultry Rearing & Selling of Eggs 4,500
Selling of Vegetables 1,000
Total: 8,500

B. Monthly expenditure after being a member of BEES:


Sector of Expenditure Amount (Tk.)
Food 4,600
Clothes 1,325
Health 950
Education (1 Son + 1 Daughter) 560
Recreation (Electricity Bill for TV) 275
Others (Electricity Bill) 150
Total: 7,860

Before becoming a member of the Gokul Nagar Mohila Samity, Porisker Begum had no personal
income. With the income of bus helper husband, she with her children used to lead a very poor
and sub-human life. But now Porisker Begum is not merely a housewife. Now she is also playing
a dominant and guiding role in changing the poverty-ridden condition of her family.
9

BEES not only gave me loan but also helped to sharpen my ideas and working skill through
imparting trainings at different times. Earlier I was an illiterate and rather blind in spite of having
eyes. But now I can read and write. I can put my signature and keep accounts. Instead of
negligency now I get importance in the society. It is not enough to take a loan; rather more
important is its proper use in business and cash profit. And this is difficult without the
cooperation of my husband and family members. I have made progress with the cooperation of
my husband and children. Money is not everything for the happiness in family. But in utter need
of money, I see bleakness before me but morally one can boost up if there is provision for food,
cloth and shelter including some ready cash. In spite of heavy toil in the family, now-a-days, I
don’t become disheartened. I shall go ahead with the mental strength that I have received through
loan and constructive advice becoming a proud member of BEES-run samity.
10

Khaleda Wins Over Negligence

I want to construct a new house with sufficient space for improving our standard of living. I want to make
my children educated enough to get honorable job

“I and my family members were just the persons to be teased by our community people as my
family had been suffering from food insecurity, hunger and starvation”, says Khaleda Begum.
Khaleda Begum is 28 years old. She was one of the thousands of housewives in the area who
were struggling to live an ordinary life with food, clothes and other basic amenities for their
families. Khaleda is a mother of two girl children. Her husband is Kazi Tofazzal Hossain of
Malaipur village under Mahadevpur Upazila of Naogaon District.

Being neglected for a long time, I just became extremely sensitive and frequently tried to avoid
relatives and peer groups. I used to remain unenthusiastic, low and gloomy to the future of my
life due to the hunger and starvation in my family. I used to feel extremely undermined as I had
been treated as like a beggar only for my poor economic condition. Even then, I felt my life as a
great burden as I couldn’t arrange food and other inevitable necessities for the children and other
family members as I had no earning. However, I waited and dreamed for the opportunity to
prove myself enough competent by my own income earning and prayed to Allah to have such an
opportunity.

In my poverty-ridden past days, when my family and I were at the brink of demise from hunger
and starvation, I heard of an organization named BEES with programmes for providing skill
training, primary health care and loan among the destitute people. I found them and applied there
to be a member. They became kind enough to make me a member and trained me according to
my interests and capacities for income generation. In the process soon I received skill training
and took opportunity of receiving loan and the events changed my livelihoods miraculously.

Being a BEES-run samity member Khaleda Begum got the scope to be trained on various
income generating initiatives. Skill development training from BEES and the loan gave Khaleda
Begum the opportunity, courage and technical know-how to be a successful and sustained
income earner through entrepreneurship or small trades. She was seemed to be an example for
successful entrepreneur like a ‘role model’ who could be followed for enabling one similar to
meet her minimal needs for the livelihoods in the usual class-standard in the community.

With skill training on poultry rearing, diary and fish cultivation and having a 5,000 Taka loan
from the Samity (BEES), Khaleda Begum first started a mini poultry farm. Khaleda Begum
started to earn a good amount of income by selling eggs and poultry. She earned a good amount
of money with poultry products selling locally. With the second loan of Taka 7,000, Khaleda
Begum purchased a cow and earned money by selling milk and again the demand was good and
she started to earn a fair amount. With the 3rd loan of Taka 9,000, she started a small fisheries
and profited well. Khaleda’s fourth loan was Taka 12,000. She infused necessary money to her
running business to make them more beneficial with more investments. Since then, all the three
projects have been running with more profits. Thus Khaleda Begum has stood on her own feet
for economic self-reliance and confidence which has fulfilled her dream of sufficient income
earning for mitigating the hunger and starvation in her family for ever and to drive the family for
prosperity.
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After starting income earning with BEES support, Khaleda and her family now earn as much as
Taka 10,000 per month with poultry, cow rearing and selling of milk and other trade, and spend
about Taka 8,000. Thus her family can spend more to improve their livelihood status like
increased spending on quality food, dresses and health, even for recreation purposes! She has
increased spending on children education and health substantially and she is now capable to save
a handful amount of money to mitigate household volatile food insecurity in crisis like with
scarcity and joblessness in the area.

Apart from the loan received from BEES, Khaleda Begum has received health services under
Seba Package from BEES for her and the family. She has also been given vegetable seeds for
kitchen gardening to get essential vegetables in family food and also for income earning to an
extent. Emphasizing on the importance of personal and domestic health and hygiene
maintenance, Khaleda Begum has received assistance for sanitary latrine from BEES and also
the necessary information regarding many essentials for healthy life. She also has received a
number of essential life skill trainings and awareness packages from BEES including those of
different skill development trainings. In the way, then Khaleda Begum is seemed to be not only
capable of being able to face the life in her own through successful income earning and to spend
those for her family for optimal food and other essentials, also she holds the capacity to save a
significant amount of money to be used in future crisis and to create some assets for the family.

Now Khaleda’s husband seems to be more inclined to her than before. He has just turned himself
not to be harsh with her that he used to do earlier. As Khaleda Begum has become a successful
income earner, she has now acquired better position to be a decision-maker in her family and in
the community. Understanding with the husband and other family members is seemed to be
accelerated tremendously.

Before Khaleda Begum was socially neglected, left-out and almost isolated as because she was
none but a poor woman. Her opinions rarely carried values in her surroundings. But when the
community has found her successful transformation with labourious struggles, self-reliant,
income earning, standing on her own foot and continuing with improvement in living standards,
her community has started to honour her.

Taking loan from BEES and with their advice and following their ways, Khaleda Begum has
attained in prosperity in her family. With sustained and progressive income earning activities,
she has become an honourable person in her society as now she not only runs her family, rather
she can help others in need with her knowledge and minimal cash as loan. As she is now an
income earning person, she has acquired a degree of decision-making authority in her own
family and among the families known to them and among their relatives. As she is now a
working lady, her opinion has become important to the community and to the peer groups. Her
social status thus has been changed with her economic status. Nobody neglects her, instead likes
to talk and mix with her. She now finds that with her progressive uplifting in economic
generation with IGA, she and her family are now acquiring dignity, honour and respects from the
community which her family never enjoyed in their lives before.

Income earning successes with the help of BEES has changed Khaleda Begum totally and she
has become enthusiastic, active and participatory in the family and community decision-making
and in community events. She has become morally high enough to speak out her rights to the
12

local level bodies and to the community leaders. She also inspires others to struggle and fight for
their rights with hard working, so that they also can be successful to stand on their own foot.

Khaleda Begum still dreams for more prosperity in her IGA. “I want to construct a new house
with sufficient space for improving our standard of living. I want to make my children educated
enough to get honorable job”, Khaleda discloses her dreams. She wants her entrepreneurship
would be ever expanding and make logical profit which she wants to earn by hard labour. Thus
she wants to live an honourable life with her family in the community where she lives. She wants
her success stories to be disseminated among the others who are in crisis in the vast rural areas
for poverty and famine. She desires with appropriate income earning activities all the people of
her community should be healthy, sound and creative with optimal food and other basic
amenities to match unprecedented greenish paddy fields of Naogaon district.

Khaleda feels that her family’s prosperities are the result of the cooperation from BEES. She
expects that continued help and intervention from BEES can give her and other similar women to
improve their livelihood standard with income earning and for their struggle to be self-reliant.

I am extremely grateful to BEES and workers of BEES for the transformation of my life. I thank
BEES for helping me translating my dream into reality. I believe very strongly that BEES is in
position to implant dreams for continued progress and prosperity for the deprived and poverty-
stricken people in need. I hope all others capable to act like BEES to come forward for
mitigating the hunger, starvation and century long disgrace and dishonors for the ever poverty-
ridden destitute population in the vast rural areas.
13

Halima Finds Way to Survive

I hold a vision that with appropriate income earning activities all the people of my community should be
healthy, sound and creative with optimal food and other basic amenities to match the extreme beauty of
the indigenous Sal, Teak and other evergreen forests of Madhobpur of the Hobiganj district.

Madhobpur upazila under Hobiganj district is ornamented with the unprecedented scenic beauty
of the evergreen tropical Bangladesh at the hilly and densely vegetated frontiers of Tripura and
Karimganj, Assam of India. Under the scenic and spectacular natural beauty, only a few people
are enjoying their lives with affluence. However, most of the population have very little means to
even procure their daily minimal food and they live in the world where everything is precious
enough except their lives, and they are simply unable to earn to maintain their minimal
household food security and other basic amenities.

Halima Begum, 35 years old, is one of the neglected members of the society. Solim Mia, the
husband of Halima Begum, is no other exception as a family guardian of these vulnerable
groups. This family, like others, was involved in the struggle of livelihood but couldn’t arrange
anything better than doing the job as day labourer. They don’t have any child.

BEES has been working in the poverty-stricken area of Modhobpur upazila. Along with their
other services, they have been attempting poverty alleviation of the poor of the prioritized groups
through disbursement of micro-credit, initiating their savings and empowering them with
community based skill development training. With the efforts of BEES, there had been
opportunities created for the distressed people to be developed as small entrepreneurs, traders or
something else for their minimal income earning to carry on their livelihood and to combat their
hunger and starvation through mitigating distorted food security in the household levels.

With the support from BEES, Halima could do something based on the enormous possibilities
within her as a human being. This is a chronicle of success in the relentless struggles for
mitigating hunger and may be something more than that. Before participating with BEES,
Halima’s family, like most of the other families in rural Bangladesh, in the region of Hobiganj
district was passing their livelihood just hand to mouth. They haven’t had any household land of
their own and they used to live in the land of their relatives. The situation was a continuous
matter of frustration for her and the family and they used to blame their fate and to seek divine
help to get rid of their extreme miseries. She used to think of her committed possible sins, for
those creator was not enough kind to bless her with a handful of happiness!

Halima’s monthly income earning was about Taka 800 from low-cost day labouring and vending
clothes. However, her monthly family expenditure was at least Taka 870. And this expenditure
was only for managing very low-standard quantity of food and clothing.

Being associated with BEES my first training was on social awareness, followed by a goat
rearing training. While trained in goat rearing, I could understand the potentials of the goat
rearing and in 1st phase, I took Taka 1,500 as loan from BEES and purchased a goat. That goat
gave 3 kids in one time in a year then made the number of my goats to 4 and that made me
immensely interested. The situation made me interested to take Taka 4,000 as the second loan to
purchase other two goats and also I commenced the vending business with cloths. I took Taka
14

6,000 as loan in the third phase. Now I have 13 goats in total and I am capable of selling 6-7
goats per year.

While receiving skill development training, it became apparent to Halima that the goat rearing is
safely profitable. So, she decided to purchase goat, even by taking loan from BEES or any other
organizations while she ended her training. However, BEES granted her loan and she started her
new life with honour, dignity and self-confidence with income earning.

Halima now not only has minimal income earning to mitigate her poverty, starvation and
mitigate volatile food security, she has now some assets those can be counted as the valuable
reserves in crisis. Along with the current capitals for small trades and poultry, she has a total of
13 goats. Along with goat rearing and vending clothes, Halima also is rearing poultries and is
successful to earn considerable income from all those. In fact, now she has become self-reliant,
standing on own foot and gained a degree of social power and rights to bargain about the
fundamental rights for her and the families like her.

Being a member of BEES, Halima’s monthly income has increased to around Taka 6,500 with
goat and poultry rearing and clothes vending with optimal capitals. The increase in income
earning has enabled her to spend optimally in food and clothing; she can now spend an amount
for health services and recreation. Some other expenditure to improve the quality of life has been
increased. Now she can also save a little in cash.

Before Halima was socially neglected, left-out and overpowered. Her opinions carried little
values to her commensal community. But when the community found her self-reliant, income
earning, standing on own foot and continuing with progress in livelihoods like food, cloths and
even she has now some skills on reading, writing and numeracy, her community has started to
honour her for her efforts. Before involved with BEES, Halima had to face immense psycho-
social stigma. She always thought of her as very low, vacant, poor and helpless and used to pass
days with a single or a half-meal! At the same time, she always had understanding that there was
no income earning scopes for an unskilled, non-working and helpless anywhere in her known
vicinities.

Before her engagement in development works as a member of BEES, no body cared Halima
socially. As she was worthless and poor, very few evaluated her as a person of dignity and
honour. She was just a left out personality in the vast population. Nobody intervened in her
wants and she became totally directionless, even unable to decide what to do or where to go for a
relief.

Apart from the loan received from BEES, Halima received a number of essential life skill
trainings and awareness orientation under Seba Package within credit plus services of BEES
including those of different skill development trainings, health care awareness and skills, disaster
management awareness, vegetable seeds for kitchen gardening, family planning and welfare
awareness, etc for continued development and progress of Halima’s family.

Halima now feels empowered and does not think herself weak and helpless as she felt before
becoming involved with BEES. She now dreams for the ultimate transformation for her own and
for others and plans for herself! She wants to be an example for the others in the process of
socio-economic upliftment struggles wining over the poverty and hunger. Her husband now
evaluates her better than before and he does not become angry now and then on her as he used to
15

do before. As Halima is now an income earner, she has now better position for decision-making
within the family and in the community. Understanding with the husband and other family
members has been enhanced tremendously.

Skill development training from BEES and the loan facilities have given Halima the opportunity,
courage and dream to be a successful and sustained income earner. She is now able to meet her
minimal needs for the usual livelihoods in the usual class-standard in the community and
dreaming even better transformation.

She is now better evaluated by her fellow community members and neighbours. Many take her
news, far more degrees of prevailing social customs and manners are exercised with her as she is
now an income earner and is capable to drive on her own! She is now specially invited and
honoured in the social events like marriage ceremonies and other social and religious rituals. She
is also evaluated for her influences in the community, even in politics.

Halima’s contained memories of her past days’ helplessness, poverty, and pity seeking and
community’s extreme negligence to her still hurts her too much. The shame, ignorance, and
disgrace by the relatives even the family members in past days resulted in psycho-social stigma
still surfaced as bad dreams sometimes. However, participating in intervention with BEES
Halima has already changed the scenario and she now feels, life is to be lived with self-reliance
and in graceful way with honour and stout neck!

I want to be sustained as an income earner with more one or two loans from BEES. Once self-
reliant, I want to be esteemed in my own way with the awareness, knowledge, skills and the
dreams achieved with my association and participation with BEES.

I have achieved many things. Being assisted with the BEES support, I have become capable to
mitigate poverty for my family in a part of my country where majority of the people have been
living under the poverty line and has to be engaged in relentless struggles for income earning to
mitigate volatile food security in the households and famines in each day.

“I hold a vision that with appropriate income earning activities all the people of my community
should be healthy, sound and creative with optimal food and other basic amenities to match the
extreme beauty of the indigenous Sal, Teak and other evergreen forests of Madhobpur of the
Hobiganj district”, Halima expresses her feelings being extremely grateful to the organization
and workers of BEES for the transformation of her life.
16

Sheuli Turns to the New Horizon

I have stood on my own feet for economic self-reliance and confidence which have fulfilled my dream of
sufficient income earning for mitigating the poverty in my family for ever and to drive my family for
dreamed prosperity.

Sheuli became pregnant for the second time. She became seriously sick. She became bed-ridden.
Everybody in the family thought that Sheuli might not survive. Then the BEES paramedic
madam came forward. She helped Sheuli with medication and advice. She referred Sheuli to
higher medical facilities. Sheuli was finally saved. “I prayed to Allah for the BEES and the
paramedic madam. The incidence still makes me emotional when I remember that”, Sheuli
expresses herself having a big smile. Sheuli continues that her family frequently suffered from
food insecurity, and poverty, but with the help and efforts from BEES, slowly she could
overcome the trouble and could start income generation activities. With the effort, she and her
family have become self-reliant. “This has given me a very pleasant and grateful feeling for the
BEES”, says Sheuli with a very grateful heart for BEES.

This was the turning point of Sheuli’s life. Sheuli Akhter is a rural woman of 28 years old. She
was struggling to manage minimal requirements for an ordinary life with adequate food, clothes
and other basic amenities for herself and her family. Sheuli is a mother of two children. Her
husband’s name is Md. Arfanuddin (Badal). They are living in the village Diakandi of Sukundi
union under Monohardi upazila of Narsingdi district.

I and my family had very limited scope for income earning. We had to suffer with extremely
vulnerable situation without any capacity to purchase minimal food for the family. Poverty,
hunger and starvation were the regular phenomena for the family. My family was passing days in
extremely demoralized situation.

Miseries never come alone. The sky was the roof of my children. I used to work as a maid
servant in others’ houses. Neighbours used to abuse me and my family members frequently for
water. We had no sanitary latrines. So we used to go to the open ground at the call of nature.

Sheuli Akhter’s family had only income earning opportunities with her husband’s such job as
working at a shop and rickshaw-van driving irregularly before she became a BEES member.
That could only contribute to their ‘hand to mouth status’, but were too meager to meet up the
other demands for a family with minimal basic amenities. For small capital in shop business and
low income yielding rickshaw van driving, they could afford a little in comparison to their
family’s basic needs. They didn’t have any reserve to continue their family expenditures in crisis
periods. With rickshaw-van driving and small shop Sheuli Akhter’s family could only earn as
much as Taka 1,500 per month through the job of her husband. However, Sheuli herself wasted
the time as a housewife and couldn’t contribute to any income earning. On the other hand, the
expenditures of her family were amounted not less than Taka 3,000 per month. Thus it was a
very difficult situation where the spending was just double than the monthly earning! The family
had difficulties in arranging daily meal for the family members. Even the family couldn’t
purchase sufficient clothes, and couldn’t spend necessary money even during the severe health
ailments.
17

Sheuli Akhter narrates the background of her becoming the member of BEES, “Some of my
neighbours were the members of other NGOs. They took training and loans from them. With
those, they considerably improved their quality of lives. I also went with them and became the
member of BEES. I started to pay back my loan. BEES, which I saw as the real friend of the
destitute permitted me as their member and offered all that service provision they had, like
trainings and the loan. In my poverty-ridden past days, when me and my family were at the edge
of total extinction for poverty, I was looking for an organization which could provide me skill
training and loans for initiating IGA for my income earning. Finally BEES gave me the essential
and vital support. At last I got the opportunity to try something for changing the mode of my
family’s fate. I thought and hope that it might be a rare opportunity for me to change the
direction of my family’s long deprivation and poverty. So I took the information about their rules
and regulations to be a member. Then I found them and became their member. In the process
soon, I received the necessary skill training and took opportunity of loan”.

Sheuli Akhter took training intensively on poultry, sanitation, vegetable and primary health care
from BEES. With skill training and loan from BEES, with the first loan of Taka 3,000 Sheuli
Akhter purchased a cow and continued her family expenditure with selling of the milk. Then
with the second loan of Taka 5,000, she again purchased another cow. In the meantime she again
took training on poultry farming and raised a poultry farm with 5,000 birds. Sheuli used to profit
considerably from poultry products. Two cows were producing 8 kg. of milks everyday. She has
constructed a good house with enough space. She has made her children school-going. Her
family has been able to construct a brick-built house. She has also built a sanitary latrine for her
family. Her husband has stopped working in others’ shop. As a result, she is now living
peacefully with her husband and the children. “All these are the contribution of BEES. I have
stood on my own feet for economic self-reliance and confidence which have fulfilled my dream
of sufficient income earning for mitigating the poverty in my family for ever and to drive my
family for dreamed prosperity”, Sheuli expresses herself.

Sheuli has directly been benefited from the practical training on the poultry. With the training
she has been able to understand the technical know-how to raise poultry in the households. She
also has learnt the importance of vaccination. She now knows the information where to go if she
is in trouble with her poultry. In the process she has taken Taka 10,000 loan to raise a household
poultry farm with 500 birds. BEES has helped her with loan and technical advice. She has made
a profit of Taka 3,000 with the selling of the produced chicks. She has also been trained on small
entrepreneurship topics especially the management, sales and accounting and that is of high
utilization for her grocery shop, the main business run by her family. All these trainings have
been conducted by BEES. In some instances, other people interested now come to her to learn
the skills of the mentioned entrepreneurship techniques and she teaches them those without
hesitation. Thus community empowerment with such capacity building has been started with
BEES efforts through transfer of sustained technologies.

Now Sheuli’s 6-member family has been living with all the basic amenities with food and others.
She is now getting full social dignity for her family. Her family is now using sanitary latrine and
drinking safe water. Her husband now seems to be more inclined to her than before and just has
forgot becoming harsh with her that he used to do in earlier times. Understanding with her
husband and other family members has been accelerated tremendously.
18

As I am now a successful income earner, I have acquired better position to be a decision-maker


within the family and in the community. My successes definitely has enabled me to acquire
better and strengthened bargaining power within the family and in my commensal community
including the relatives and peer groups.

My husband now takes my opinion in any work and we work together for our family prosperity.
I and my husband have become opinion leaders in our village. We also are contributing to the
development of our village rendering appropriate suggestions. After becoming a successful
entrepreneur, the community people now call me for any ‘Salish’ or community decision. They
are now paying me and my family a great respect and that has made me amazed and satisfied.
Earlier I was socially neglected, left-out and almost isolated because I was poor. My opinions
rarely carried values in my surroundings. But now my successful transformation with labourious
struggles, self-reliance, income earning standing on own foot and continuing improvement in
living standards, my community has started to honour me for my efforts and successes. With
success in income earning, I am now even respected by the local opinion leaders and the local
decision-makers in the community as with the efforts and assistance from BEES, I have become
successful to create a group of people who found me as the symbol of success.

Sheuli now earns about Taka 10,000 per month even after maintaining the expenses of the
children’s education. Even in need, she can give loan to her known people. She has become
solvent with the help of BEES through business. She has made her grocery shop bigger enough
to be self sustained and she is now a proud owner of that shop. Skill development training from
BEES and the loan has given Sheuli Akhter the opportunity, courage and technical know-how to
be a successful and sustained income earner through entrepreneurship. Now she is just an
example of successful entrepreneur like a ‘role model’ who can be followed by others to meet
their minimal needs for the livelihoods in the community. It is now easier for her to have loan
from other sources as it has been proved that she can make profit, can repay, and thus her
entrepreneurship has suffered less trouble for making capital as she has already become a good
borrower who can pay back the loan money with service charge.

Apart from receiving loan from BEES, Sheuli Akhter has also received health services under
Seba Package and very important family planning advice and service from BEES paramedic
madam for herself and the family. She also has been given vegetable seeds free of cost for
kitchen gardening to get essential vegetables in family food and also for income earning. Proper
guidelines for cultivating the vegetables has also been given by BEES. Sheuli Akhter says, “I
have received assistance for other essentials from BEES and also the necessary information and
awareness for a better life. I have also received a number of essential life skill trainings and
awareness packages from BEES including those of different skill development trainings. I get
help from my savings with BEES and even occasionally take money from BEES to meet up any
urgent need”. In the way, Sheuli Akhter seems to be not only capable of being able to face the
life on her own through successful income earning and to spend those for her family for optimal
food and other essentials, also she is now able to save an appreciable amount to be used in future
crisis or to create some assets for the family. Now Sheuli plans for raising another poultry farm
with two more workers in a participatory manner by taking loan from BEES. She wants to train
them and help them for their economic establishment with IGA through the technical know-how
and training from the BEES.

Sheuli Akhter holds the vision for more prosperity in her trades and businesses. She wants to
make her children educated enough to make them capable of getting honourable job. She wants
19

her entrepreneurship would be ever expanding and makes logical profit which she wanted to earn
by hard labour. She states her desire, “I want to make a brick-built house. Thus I want to live an
honourable life with my family in the community where we live”. She desires with appropriate
income earning activities all the people of her community should be healthy, sound and creative
with optimal food and other basic amenities to match unprecedented scenic beauty of the
greenish Narsingdi with hundreds of rivers, canals and flood plains.

Sheuli feels extremely grateful to BEES for its loan and training support with advices as those
have made herself reliant. She hopes for the best of BEES and its continued effort in the rural
area for upliftment of the deprived people. She thanks BEES for implanting dreams for
continued progress and prosperity for the deprived and poverty-stricken people in need. “I hope
all others capable to act like BEES to come forward for mitigating the hunger, starvation and
century long disgrace and dishonours for the ever poverty-ridden destitute population in the vast
rural areas. I hope that BEES would continue to help the destitute people”, Sheuli concludes with
a big smile.
20

New Life of Abul Kalam Azad

In 2000, Eid-ul-Fitre was knocking at the door. The villagers were taking preparation for observing Eid
festival. Parents were buying new dresses, shoes and other things for their children and themselves.
Every family became busy arranging delicious food for the holyday. But, I and my wife could not manage
to cook any improved meal.

What about Azad’s family? Eid-ul-Fitre on the next day. Azad was empty handed. He had no
money. His wife and the eldest son understood his problem. Azad observed that his wife was
crying silently in absence of him. His son was pretending that everything was alright and he
needed nothing. But his two daughters were too young to understand the financial crisis. They
started crying for new cloths as the children of other families were putting on new cloths on the
festival. They became impatient and asked once and again for new dress to Azad and his wife.
Azad became speechless. His wife had nothing to console their daughters. The daughters got
sleeping after crying for a long time.

Abul Kalam Azad, son of late Ayez Uddin, resides at Rohotra village in Mahadevpur upazila
under Naogaon district. He is the father of one son and two daughters. Azad used to earn a very
poor income through running a small shop at his village. His average monthly income was only
1,800 Taka. It was very difficult for him to maintain his five-member family with this little
earning. Moreover his children used to suffer very often from different types of water-borne
diseases. It was very hard for him to manage doctor’s fees and medical expenses for his children
alongside maintaining his family.

Azad recollects, “In 2000, Eid-ul-Fitre was knocking at the door. The villagers were taking
preparation for observing Eid festival. Parents were buying new dresses, shoes and other things
for their children and themselves. Every family became busy arranging delicious food for the
holyday. But, I and my wife could not manage to cook any improved meal”. Azad adds, “Our
children remained almost unattended on the Eid festival. They didn’t get anything to observe the
Day with enjoyment. While the other children of the village enjoyed the Day in a festive mode,
our children did not find any option to make it a Day for enjoyment”. They, finding no other
way, just visited their relatives’ house and had some sweets and food there. Azad and his wife
spent the whole day helplessly at home and thought how to overcome the financial crisis.

Few days later, when Azad was sitting in his shop, one man came to the next shop and started
discussion about different development initiatives. Overhearing some of the conversations Azad
became interested and joined the discussion. He came to know that this person was from BEES
office and he was a development worker.

The staff of BEES was describing about BEES’ initiative towards improvement of standard of
living. He was explaining how to become a member of BEES and avail the micro-credit facilities
from BEES. He was also describing that BEES used to provide technical support through
training and financial support to expand entrepreneurship. Being a participant and listener of
discussion, Azad became very impressed. He got an inspiration listening to the BEES’ worker
and discussed the issue with his wife. Finally Azad decided to join BEES.
21

On the very next day Azad went to BEES office and became a member of BEES. Then becoming
a member of BEES, he received training on Enterprise Development. Not only Azad, but also his
wife received training on Cow Rearing and Livestock Management. Azad and his wife also
received training on Homestead Gardening, Health Care and Sanitation. As part of the process
Azad took 10,000 Taka from BEES in the year 2000 as the first loan to invest in his shop. Earlier
due to lack of money, Azad could not manage to keep a good number of grocery items in his
shop. Now with this investment he increased the number of items in his grocery shop. As a result
the sale from his shop had been increased and he started making more profit. He invested 15,000
taka more getting the 2nd loan from BEES.

Azad’s wife was not sitting idle. Since she received training on cow rearing and livestock
management, she wanted to participate in income generating activities along with Azad. Azad
utilized his third loan of Taka 20,000 to buy a cow for his wife in the year 2002. Now his wife
has been rearing the cow and earning money through selling milk. At present their monthly
income is about Tk. 14,500.

Azad’s wife has been proved as an enthusiastic woman. She has been managing to utilize the
homestead area to grow different fruits and vegetables. These are meeting the requirements of
their family. Sometimes she also sells the excess amount and earns some extra money.

Now Azad and her wife are more health conscious. They maintain better hygiene practices
personally and within their family. They have also constructed a sanitary latrine as per the advice
from BEES staff. Now their children do not suffer from any water-borne diseases. They also
have the opportunity to avail health services from Seba Package within BEES credit plus
services, if needed. Now their life is getting better. Azad and his family now enjoy the essence of
happy and solvent life.

I and my wife often discuss together about our past life as well as plan for the future. We
remember that in many occasions we were ignored by the society for our financial crisis. But
now with the assistance from BEES, we have become able to overcome our miseries. Now we
are solvent and have a better status in the society. We have earned respect from the community
people. We have become an inevitable part of our community. It is BEES, who has showed us
the light for survival. We are grateful to BEES and its staff. Their efforts and encouragement has
helped us to climb-up the ladder of development.

Azad has been planning to expand his business along with his wife. They are now caring about
good education for their children. They wish that their eldest son would become a doctor.
22

Smiling Face of Shahanara: A Downtrodden Woman

In my poverty-ridden past days, when my family was at the risk of demise for hunger and starvation, I
heard of an organization named BEES which was with programmes for providing skill development
training, rendering primary health service and disbursing loans among the destitute population. I found
the organization out and became a member. In the process soon, I received skill training and took
opportunity of loan and the events started changing my livelihoods miraculously.

Shahanara didn’t get any source of income earning except engaging her as agricultural labourer.
Her family suffered from poverty and food insecurity so frequently. In such an occasion, for
essential money to purchase food for the family, she mortgaged her ornament to a local money
lender on a very low amount of money unfortunately who never returned those. As a woman, she
took great pain in loss of her ornaments as those were the ornaments which she got on her
marriage.

Shahanara Arju Ruby, a woman of 28 years old was one of the million housewives in the area
who was struggling to live an ordinary life with food, clothes and other basic amenities for her
family. She is married and a mother of two children – one boy and one girl. Her husband is
Abdul Majid of Gogonpur village, under Patnitala upazila of Naogaon district.

My family had only income earning opportunity in agriculture and as labourer. But for the whole
year, the works were not available and we didn’t have any reserve to continue our feeding when
there was no income earning work available for us. I and my family were to suffer from hunger,
and other poverty related health ailments frequently. With agriculture, my family used to earn
only as much as Taka 1,800 per month. In the other hand, the minimal expenditures of my family
were amounted not less than our monthly income. I couldn’t save any money and I was not
happy with a ‘hand to mouth’ status.

Shahanara states “In my poverty-ridden past days, when my family was at the risk of demise for
hunger and starvation, I heard of an organization named BEES which was with programmes for
providing skill development training, rendering primary health service and disbursing loans
among the destitute population. I found the organization out and became a member. In the
process soon, I received skill training and took opportunity of loan and the events started
changing my livelihoods miraculously”.

With skill training and the loan of Taka 5,000 from BEES, Shahanara first started to herd the
poultry. Shahanara started to earn a good amount of income by selling eggs and poultry. With the
second loan of Taka 8,000, Shahanara purchased a cow and earned from selling milk. With the
3rd loan of Taka 11,000, she started a small fish cultivation project. With the fourth loan of Taka
14,000, she infused necessary money to her running businesses to make them more beneficial
with more investments and since then, all the three businesses were running with more profits.
Thus Shahanara stood on her own foot for economic self-reliance and confidence which fulfilled
her dream of sufficient income earning for mitigating the hunger and starvation in her family for
ever and to drive the family for utmost prosperity. Her monthly income is approximately Tk
9,000 at present.
23

Now Shahanara’s husband seems to be more inclined to her than before and just has forgot to
become harsh on her that he did in earlier times. As Shahanara has become a successful income
earner, she has acquired a better position to be a decision-maker within the family and in the
community. Understanding with the husband and other family members has been accelerated
tremendously.

Before Shahanara was socially neglected, left-out and almost isolated as because she was poor.
Her opinions rarely carried values in her surroundings. But when the community found her
successful transformation with labourious struggles, self-reliant, income earning standing on own
foot and continued improvement in living standards, her community has started to honour her for
her efforts and successes.

Skill development training from BEES and the loan have given Shahanara the opportunity,
courage and technical know-how to be a successful and sustained income earner through
entrepreneurship or small trades. She is now seemed to be an example for successful
entrepreneur like a “role model” who could be followed for enabling on similar to meet her
minimal needs for the livelihoods in the usual class-standard in the community.

I have received health services from BEES for me and my family. I have also been given
vegetable seeds for kitchen gardening to get essential vegetables in family food and also for
income earning to an extent. I have also received assistance for sanitary latrine from BEES and
the necessary information regarding many essentials for better life. I have received a number of
essential life skill trainings and awareness packages from BEES including those of different skill
development trainings in poultry, cow rearing, and fisheries, etc. In the way, then I am seemed to
be not only capable of being able to face the life on my own through successful income earning
and to spend those for my family for optimal food and other essentials, also I am now able to
save an appreciable amount to be used in future crisis and to create some assets for my family.

Shahanara dreams for more prosperity in her trades and businesses. She wants to make her
children educated enough to get honourable job. She wants her entrepreneurship would be ever
increasing and to make reasonable profit which she wants to earn by working hard. Thus she
wants to live an honourable life with her family in the community. She wants her success stories
to be disseminated among the others, who are in crisis in the vast rural areas. She desires with
appropriate income earning activities all the people of her community should be healthy, sound
and creative with optimal food and other basic amenities to match unprecedented greenish paddy
fields of Naogaon district.

Shahanara is extremely grateful to BEES and the workers of BEES for the transformation of her
life to prosperity. She thanks BEES to implant her dreams for continued progress and prosperity
for the deprived and poverty-stricken people in need. She hopes all others capable to act like
BEES to come forward for mitigating the hunger, starvation and century long disgrace and
dishonours for the ever poverty-ridden destitute population in the vast rural areas.
24

Moyna’s Miseries Gone by

Only courage, self respect and sincere efforts are essential to flourish the buds which really exist inside
the destitute women. I have already proceeded half-way and still I have a long way to go to fulfill my
latent dream.

What is lotted, cannot be blotted – a very common proverb among the general people in
Bangladesh. I am Moyna Uriya, obviously one of them, who have experienced the essence of
this proverb very practically. I am an ordinary, simple rural young lady of only 25 years old. I
spent my childhood at the tea garden of Madhobpur upazila under Hobiganj district. I dreamt of
a life full of love, enjoyment and new experiences with my newly married husband. But it
happened quite opposite. My husband divorced me claiming a huge amount of money as dowry
when I was four-month pregnant. Finally I had to return to my father Dipok Uriya’s house.

Noapara Tea Garden – a place of natural beauty with all its deep green. Moyna resided in a
thatched house at a corner of this tea-garden with her innocent little daughter. She felt herself as
a burden of her father. Days were passing with grief and uncertainty. Moyna considered herself
responsible for her own fate. She felt herself disadvantaged and helpless. It was really hard to
arrange food for her daughter and herself. Moyna was ignored by the society. Everybody started
at her with pity. “Life became unbearable for me. Sometimes, I considered myself a curse of
God”, Moyna defines her distressed life.

Years gone by…..

Moyna had the scope to become a group member of BEES – a lighthouse for Moyna. The name
of the samity (cooperative) of BEES was Noapara Tea-Garden Samity. BEES provided training
on Social Awareness to develop self-reliance among the distressed women. In addition, Moyna
received training on Cow Rearing and Livestock Management from the staff of BEES.

Moyna was supported by BEES as she borrowed money to buy a cow and some chickens.
Moyna says, “I received 2,000 Taka and 4,000 Taka as the first and second loan respectively. I
spent the money of first loan for buying a calf. Upon receiving training and necessary advice
from BEES, I became confident to rear the calf efficiently”. Moyna utilized her second loan in
buying a cow. In fact, training added perfection to efficient management of husbandry. She also
spent some money to buy some chickens. Just after few months, her life started changing. The
cow gave birth to a calf and chickens started laying eggs. “I started earning money from selling
milk and eggs. I started also paying back my loan money”, Moyna expresses her happiness.

Moyna also received some seedling and saplings from BEES. Moyna sowed plants at her
homestead. She came to know the health benefits of fruits and vegetables from the staff of
BEES. Moyna became health conscious. She used to feed her daughter fruits and vegetables and
sold excess portion to the nearby market. It became an extra source of income for Moyna. Moyna
and her daughter regularly received health services from BEES clinic.

Moyna proved herself as a trusted member of BEES. She used to pay back her loan installments
on a regular basis. Again she took third loan from BEES and bought a van for her father by
adding some of her own savings. Moyna’s father now has become a self-employed man!
25

Everyday Moyna used to sell more than five liters of milk and dozens of eggs. Gradually her
monthly net income raised to more than 5,000 taka after repayment of the loan.

Now Moyna can meet the requirements of her family. She has taken the responsibilities of her
family. She is getting priority at her family as well as in the community. Moyna’s daughter
Swapna has started schooling. Swapna has already proved her as a brilliant student.

Moyna is now getting importance in her surrounding community. She has earned respect and
love from them. Now the community people do not forget to invite Moyna in any social or
religious occasion. Sometimes Moyna looks back to her past. “These are the people who ignored
and disregarded me. I was always undermined and my appearance in any social events was not
accepted positively. I was thought as a woman of misfortune. But now, the scenario is different.
BEES has changed my life totally”, Moyna makes a strong point in favour of her present status.

Just one day back, Moyna has bought a new saree. Putting on that saree she is standing at the
door and waiting for Swapna, her daughter to come back from school. Moyna observes Swapna,
with blue uniform and carrying the red bag at her neck is approaching to her with a mind
blowing smile. Moyna tries to be assured, “Is it a dream? Oh no! It is my daughter Swapna, my
dream”.

I want to forget my past. I want to forget the violence and brutality caused to me by my husband
for dowry. I have learnt many practical things in 25 years time of my life. Now my husband
wants to get me back into his family. But I know that time and tide wait for none. I will never go
back to my distressed life again. Now it is time for me to move forward. I am ready to face the
truth of life and struggle for fulfilling any dream. Now my dream is only Swapna, my daughter,
and a bright future for her and myself. Now I am more confident and self-reliant. I do not want
any sympathy from anyone. I believe that my self-respect and efforts will take me to a desired
place.

Moyna has a plan to expand her business. She will take some more money to expand her poultry.
Now-a-days demand of eggs is increasing gradually. She will go for a bigger poultry farm. She
needs supporting hands also. She has planned to employ a person to look after her poultry.
Before expanding the poultry, she feels to receive some training on vaccination from BEES.
Moyna knows that BEES extends its support always. She has decided to share her plan with
BEES staff and get some advice on how to proceed on further with everything positive.

Moyna has established herself in the society as a symbol of determination. She wishes all like
her to come forward and win over violence and establish themselves. She further hopes, “BEES
will always stand beside us to extend all possible support. Only courage, self respect and sincere
efforts are essential to flourish the buds which really exist inside the destitute women. I have
already proceeded half-way and still I have a long way to go to fulfill my latent dream”.
26

Perseverance brings Ataur a bright future

I am planning to expand my business. I will marry soon and of course without any dowry. My mother is
looking for a bride.

Ataur Rahman is a young man of 33 years. His father is late Mia Hossain and mother’s name is
Rahela Begum. He lives in a remote village named Baniagram under Kotiali upazila in the
district of Kishorganj. Ataur Rahman describes one of his unforgettable memories. “In the year
2000, my neighbour’s son Muhit became seriously ill. Muhit’s mother was a poor woman and
her husband went out to work for few weeks at a long distance during the harvesting season. She
became puzzled and helpless. I went there, stood helplessly and could not understand what to do.

Suddenly I found a man named Reza. Reza came and made necessary arrangement to take Muhit
to the Upazila Health Complex. I accompanied them. I observed that Reza talked to the doctors
and they informed us that Muhit had acute appendicitis. He needed to go under operation
immediately. Muhit’s mother was about to be faint. She only uttered that doctor must do
whatever is suggested by Reza. I became little bit curious about Reza. Who was he? Why was
Muhit’s mother so dependent on Reza? In fact, I did not meet him earlier. However, the doctor
operated Muhit. His sense came and he talked to his mother. The doctor said that his life was
saved because he was admitted and operated in time. We were relieved. Then I started talking to
Reza at the veranda of the hospital. I came to know that Reza was a development worker of
BEES. He started explaining the mission and vision of BEES, development initiatives of BEES
and many other issues. I was listening to him and the night was getting deeper. I also came to
know that Muhit’s mother was a group member of BEES. She received training on cow rearing
and livestock management and started rearing a cow with loan from BEES. Reza was the contact
person from BEES. He helped Muhit’s mother in starting the income generating activities.
Gradually I understood that Reza was really a trust-worthy person and that’s why Muhit’s
mother could entirely depend on him.

Reza really impressed me with his behaviour and attitude. Later on I met him several times. I
discussed my present financial status and my desire to do something better in life. I used to repair
bicycles and earn very little money. Sometimes I used to buy and sell paddy and make some
profit out of that. But my income was not stable. I am the only earning member in my family.
My parents got old and my father was not able to work. So, it was my responsibility to maintain
the family but unfortunately I was not in a position to cope with the situation.

Reza listened to me very carefully. Then he analyzed my situation and advised me some options
which I could avail. He informed me that I could get soft loan from BEES and repay it on
maintaining weekly installments. He also described the potentiality of trading on paddy and
suggested how to do it in a better way.

Accordingly I enrolled myself as a member of BEES. Gradually I received training on Micro-


enterprise Development and Trading. Then I borrowed 7,000 Taka as the first loan from BEES to
start trading on paddy in the year 2000. I made reasonable profit out of it. Therefore, I invested
12,000 Taka more getting the second loan from BEES in 2001. With necessary guidance and
support from BEES, gradually I came to know how to do better in this business. I became more
27

confident and invested 15,000 Taka more having the third loan from BEES. I regularly repay the
loan to BEES.

I also utilized some of the money to purchase some tools and spares to repair bicycles. It is my
hobby and I also earn a handsome amount from the repairing work.

BEES continuously supported me. The staff of BEES guided and facilitated me to run the trading
professionally. They continuously monitored my business and suggested what to do and how to
do. I also availed 25,000 Taka and 35,000 Taka respectively as the fifth and sixth loans from
BEES. I was able to repay most of the loan.

BEES, appreciating my potentiality, encouraged and helped me to become financially solvent.


Now I am able to carry out all the responsibilities towards my family. I have extended two more
rooms in the homestead with earlier two rooms. We did not have any cattle earlier. Now we have
eight cows and one of my distant nephews looks after them. My mother is busy in selling milk
and the earning from the milk is only for her! My parents are now very happy. At present, my
monthly income is nearly Tk. 20,000.

My attachment with BEES has made me responsible for the community as well. I feel
responsibilities not only to my family but also to the society. I consider myself as a responsible
citizen of the society. Also the community people love and respect me. They often invite me to
solve any social problem. I involve myself with various social development activities. I help the
flood victims and people who suffer from any other natural calamity and social problems.

I am planning to expand my business. I will marry soon and of course without any dowry. My
mother is looking for a bride. BEES not only helped me to establish myself in the society but
also enhanced my human potentiality. Now I know about the benefits of a small family and
rights of a woman. I wish I could have a small and happy family. I want my wife to be my
partner in all respects throughout life”.
28

Happiness in Lalbanu’s Family

BEES will expand its similar interventions throughout the country to reach to all poor communities.

I used to think many a time whether God created my children only for suffering! When the
children cried out of hunger, it became unbearable for me – an affectionate mother. I used to go
door-to-door to borrow some money to buy food for my children. But relatives and neighbours
became reluctant to lend money to me anymore. They were gradually trying to avoid my family.
I could not send my children to school.

Complain and quarrel are the everyday phenomena in the family of Lalbanu. Because Lalbanu,
45, has a big family of three sons and three daughters. Her husband, Md. Shamser Ali, is a day
labourer of Bengadoba under Madhobpur upazila in Hobiganj. He also used to sell some
vegetables in the nearby market. Altogether his monthly income was about 1,300–1,400 Taka
only. It was troublesome and almost impossible for Lalbanu to manage her big family with so
little amount of income. She had to borrow money from her relatives and neighbours every
month. Lack of money and burden of such a big family were the usual points of argument
between husband and wife.

But Lalbanu did not stop dreaming. She always thought that she must do something for her
family. One day that scope came to her life! Being learnt about BEES and its programmes
Lalbanu was enrolled as a group member of BEES-run samity. She started depositing money in
the samity regularly and soon became eligible to get loan from BEES.

The staff of BEES were very supportive. They inspired Lalbanu for entrepreneurship
development. Several options were consulted with Lalbanu. At last Lalbanu decided to start a
small grocery shop. Then she received training on Small Scale Entrepreneurship Development.
She was trained on how to keep accounts and how to manage entrepreneurship. Training made
her confident to run business sitting a grocery shop. Lalbanu started the shop with 2,000 Taka
only getting that from BEES as the first loan. Initially the grocery items were few in number.
When it was observed that she was making reasonable profit, she availed the second loan of
4,000 Taka. Now she has added some more items in her shop. Gradually she has become a
confident and successful entrepreneur. Lalbanu has never missed any repayment schedule. She
has proved herself as a trusted member of Bengadoba Mohila Samity under BEES. She has
expanded her business by taking the third loan of 6,000 Taka.

Lalbanu has also received training on Social Awareness Raising. She has from training of BEES
that hard work is the key to success. She was not ashamed about what she was doing. At the
beginning many neighbours teased her when she used to sit in her small shop. But when people
observed that she was earning money, gradually their attitude had been changed towards her. The
people who ignored Lalbanu earlier have started respecting her. Even her husband, who used to
start his day quarrelling with her has changed his habit! He now shows respect to Lalbanu’s
opinions and decisions. Now they are a happy couple.

Solvency has financials brought enjoyment in their life. Now Lalbanu earns more than 4,000
Taka per month. Her total monthly expenditure is about 3,500 Taka. She is now sending her
29

children to schools. Earlier some well-off families did not allow their children to play with
Lalbanu’s children. But now they don’t have any embargo on that. The neighbours who were
afraid of lending money to Lalbanu are now coming to her for borrowing good advice. Now
Lalbanu gets respect and honour from the family and the community.

I am planning for expanding my small enterprise to a medium one. I will receive training on
Advanced (Medium) Entrepreneurship Development. I will avail technical and financial
assistance from BEES. My eldest son will assist me in accounts-keeping while my husband will
share the workload. My family effort will be there with a dream to attain economic and social
emancipation.

Lalbanu has high esteem and self-confidence and all the good wishes for BEES. She expects,
“BEES will expand its similar interventions throughout the country to reach to all poor
communities.”
30

Abu Ashraf makes it a Success

My wife will also join in my business as soon as my youngest son starts schooling. I want to keep the
smile in the face of my wife forever!

“When I failed to get loan from any financial institution without collateral security, BEES
extended financial support to me”, says Abu Ashraf.

Ashraf, age 45, had a small shop at Muktijoddha Market in Mirpur, Dhaka. He was involved
with small scale trading of cloths. His monthly income was about 10,000 Taka. He could manage
his family with two sons and one daughter with his income. But after meeting all the expenses,
he could not save any single amount. He wanted to have a solvent life and provide better
education to his children.

Ashraf, 45 years old, was a hardworking and potential entrepreneur. His ambition was to
establish a shop of ready-made garments. He had a business plan, which was derived from his
own experience. He visited several banks and financial institutions to get loan. But he could not
manage to get without collateral security. He did not have enough savings to deposit as collateral
security. At this juncture, he was involved with BEES.

BEES was looking for potential and energetic entrepreneurs. BEES appreciated Ashraf’s
ambition, efforts and hardwork. He took part in BEES’s training on Entrepreneurship
Development. He came to know how to prepare a business plan professionally. Then he revised
his business plan in consultation with the staff of BEES. Ashraf stated the business of ready-
made garments with the first loan of 20,000 Taka received from BEES in the year 2000. He
invested 40,000 Taka more taking the second loan from BEES in the same year.

This is the beginning of Ashraf’s new dimension of entrepreneurship. BEES remained always
beside him. The staff of BEES provided technical support to him on how to run and expand the
business and market the products. BEES’s staff continuously monitored the progress of Ashraf’s
business and provided necessary advice and guidance.

In 2001, Ashraf expanded his business by investing 50,000 taka getting the third loan from
BEES. Ashraf and BEES both are satisfied with the level of profit made from the business.
BEES’s staff realizes that they could pick up the right potential person and Ashraf will do much
better if he gets proper guidance and necessary financial back up from BEES.

Ashraf availed the fifth loan of 75,000 Taka and sixth loan of 85,000 Taka from BEES in 2003
and 2004 respectively for further expansion of his business. His business started flourishing
accordingly. Out of the profit made, Ashraf regularly repays the loan to BEES. Now he earns
70,000 Taka per month. Ashraf’s future plan is to establish a departmental store in addition to his
ready-made garments shop. He is planning for the same in consultation with BEES staff.

Ashraf is not only a rising business figure, but also he is known as an honest and sincere person
amongst the business community of the Muktijoddha Market at Mirpur. His pleasant personality
attracts everybody. Now he is a part and parcel of that business community. They feel proud to
get him in their association. Ashraf has become the Secretary of the Mukti Cooperative Society
31

as an uncontested candidate. His wise opinion and advice are well accepted by Mirpur business
community. Ashraf has made his position in the business community. Ashraf’s establishment as
a business leader is an excellent achievement of BEES too. Honest efforts of Ashraf along with
sincere support from BEES has made it possible.

Not only in the business community, also in the family, Ashraf’s status and acceptance have
been enhanced. All his family members treat him differently. Now he receives more attention,
love and respect from his family members. They obey him and follow his advice.

I admit that before my involvement with BEES, I was not aware of the importance of female
education, health & nutrition, sanitation, family planning, mother & child care, etc. However,
during my long association with BEES, I came to know about all these issues. I am now more
caring about the well being of my family. I love my wife and share my problems with her. Now I
consult my wife in decision-making. I believe in empowerment of women in the society. I dream
that one day my daughter will become a doctor. I appreciate that my wife always supports me
behind the screen. She always provides moral support to me. I am grateful to my wife.

Ashraf expresses, “My wife is the most important person in my life who always stands besides
me. When I became very disappointed after not getting loan from any bank without collateral
security, she encouraged me to join BEES. And ultimately I was able to find my way”. His wife
is very happy with Ashraf and her three cute children. Ashraf expects, “My wife will also join in
my business as soon as my youngest son starts schooling. I want to keep the smile in the face of
my wife forever!”
32

Raushan Ara becomes Self-reliant

With the profit, I could construct a house, sanitary latrine and could bear the education expenses of my
children. Thus I have stood on my own foot for economic self-reliance and confidence which has fulfilled
my dream of sufficient income earning for mitigating the poverty in my family for ever.

Raushan Ara remembers many nights she passed with her family members without food! Her
family frequently suffered from food insecurity and poverty. Rain-water used to make the whole
of the inside home coming through broken holes in the thatched roof house. Even intense desires,
she couldn’t send her children to school. “Even some of the community leaders used to deprive
me, my rights of getting relief due to my absolute no importance in the community. These make
me still gloomy and frustrated as I cannot forget the insults of others. I had to face these while I
was poor and not income earning”, recollects Raushan Ara.

Raushan Ara, wife of Md. Samad, was among the numerous housewives in the area struggling to
procure minimal requirements for living an ordinary life with food, clothes and other basic
amenities for her family. Raushan Ara is 46 years old having 2 sons. She is from the village of
Dharabandha of Monohordi upazila under Narsingdi district. She was involved in struggle of
livelihood and couldn’t arrange anything better than becoming a day labourer.

Raushan Ara and her family had no scope for income earning and were to depend on the
seasonal day labouring. Raushan Ara and her family had to suffer with extremely vulnerable
situation without any capacity to purchase minimal food for the family. Poverty, hunger and
starvation were the regular features for the family and the members were passing days in
extremely demoralized situation.

BEES is working in the poverty-stricken area of Monohordi upazila under Naogaon district.
With the support from BEES, Raushan Ara initiated her dream of her long expected self-reliance
for mitigating hunger and many more than that.

As a housewife, Raushan Ara at last found to do something for her families with which she could
survive with her family with the requirements, those the human beings require minimally.

In my poverty ridden past days, when I and my family was at the edge of total extinction for
hunger and starvation, I heard of an organization namely BEES which were with programmes for
providing skill training and disbursing loans among the destitute people. I thought and hoped that
it might be a rare opportunity for me to change the direction of my family’s long deprivation and
poverty. So I took the information about their rules and regulations to be a member. I also heard
that they were providing seeds for winter vegetable cultivation for increasing vegetable
consumption for better health and income earning. I found that they were also rendering minimal
health services with referrals and thus helping the destitute people attaining an optimal health
status. Then I just searched and found them and became their member. In the process soon, I
received the necessary skill training and took opportunity of loan and the events already have
changed the direction of my life and livelihoods up to my utmost expectations!

Raushan Ara took training intensively on banana and betel leaf cultivations. All the trainings
were arranged by BEES. Raushan Ara was directly benefited from the practical training on the
33

banana cultivation. Her family made considerable income earning from the banana cultivation.
She also got training on practical knowledge about the cultivation of betel leaf, another
economically important agro-based production. Raushan’s family started to profit a handsome
amount each month.

With skill training and loan from BEES, with the first loan of Taka 5,000, Raushan Ara started
banana cultivation as per the suggestion of the BEES field workers and profited 3 times more
than her investment. With the profit, Raushan Ara then purchased a cow and utilized a small
amount of money for different small trades to continue the daily family expenditures. With the
second loan of Taka 9,000, Raushan Ara started betel leaf cultivation and she perceived the
economic prospects of that was seemed to be an all-out demanded item in the market and capable
of making good profit without too much technical knowledge and investments. “With the profit,
I could construct a house, sanitary latrine and could bear the education expenses of my children.
Thus I have stood on my own foot for economic self-reliance and confidence which has fulfilled
my dream of sufficient income earning for mitigating the poverty in my family for ever”, says a
proud Raushan.

The income earning source of Raushan Ara’s husband was only day laboring. But the works
were not available in all the years. They have no reserve to continue their feeding when there
were no income earning works available for them. She and her family had to experience cruel
hunger and other poverty related health ailments frequently. As agricultural labourer with earth
work, Raushan Ara’s family could only earn as much as Taka 600 per month. In the other hand,
the expenditures of her family were amounted not less than monthly income. With the money,
she couldn’t arrange daily meal even once for her family members. She couldn’t purchase
clothes and spend any money even during severe health ailments. She even couldn’t dream to
save any money and her family even was not in so called ‘hand to mouth’ status.

After starting income earning with BEES support, Raushan’s family has started earning as much
as Taka 5,500 per month with cultivation of banana, betel leaf cultivation and other trade.
Raushan’s family now spends near about Taka 5,000 per month. Now she can spend a
considerable amount of money on essential clothing for the family members. Also her family
now can spend money for education. In this way, Raushan Ara can spend more to improve the
livelihood status of her family.

As Raushan Ara has become a successful income earner, she has acquired better position to be a
decision-maker within the family and in the community. Understanding with her husband and
other family members has been accelerated tremendously. Her successes definitely has enabled
her to acquire better and strengthened bargaining power within the family and in her commensal
community including the relatives and peer groups.

Before Raushan Ara was socially neglected, left-out and almost isolated as because she was
poor. Her opinions rarely carried values in her surroundings. But when the community has found
her successful transformation with labourious struggles, self-reliant, income earning standing on
own foot and continued improvement in living standards, her community has started to honour.
Raushan has now been respected by the local opinion leaders and the local decision-makers in
the community.
34

Skill development training from BEES and the loan have given me the opportunity, courage and
technical know-how to be a successful and sustained income earner through entrepreneurship. It
is now easier for me to get loan even from other sources as I have proved that I can make profit
and can pay back, and thus my entrepreneurship has suffered less trouble for capital as I already
have become a good ‘borrower’ who can pay back the loan money in time.

Apart from the loan received from BEES, Raushan Ara has received health services from BEES
for herself and the family. She has been given vegetable seeds for kitchen gardening to get
essential vegetables in family food and also for income earning to an extent. She has also
received a number of essential life skill trainings and awareness packages from BEES including
those of different skill development trainings. She has also got help from her savings with BEES
and even occasionally taken money from BEES to overcome any urgent need. In the way,
Raushan Ara now seemed to be not only capable of being able to face the life in her own through
successful income earning and to spend those for her family for optimal food and other
essentials, also she has been able to save an appreciable amount to the used in future crisis and to
create some assets for the family.

Raushan Ara still dreams for more prosperity in her trades and businesses. She wants to make
her children educated enough to get honourable job. She wants her entrepreneurship would be
ever expanding and makes logical profit. She states her desire to make a separate house for her
children. She also plans to raise a poultry unit which she wants to take care by herself. Thus she
wants to live an honourable life with her family in the community where she lives. She desires
with appropriate income earning activities all the people of her community should be healthy,
sound and creative with optimal food and other basic amenities to match unprecedented scenic
beauty of the greenish Narsingdi with spectacular presence of rivers, canals and flood plains.