The power of the collective

August 15, 2012 by

Boragari Union Parishad chairman, 69-year-old Isahaq Ali, is a person of dedicated spirit to social service delivering speech to 4,000 villagers on July 7, 2012 in a premises of a govt. primary school.

Gambling, playing cards and enjoying CDs were common scenarios for villagers of West Boragari in Domar, Nilphamari in northern Bangladesh.

These days however, the villagers largely refrain from engaging in such potentially harmful activities.

“It is not a miracle, but fact, and it happened due to the honest initiative of several groups of people,” said Boragari Union Parishad chairman 69-year-old Isahaq Ali, whose spirit  is dedicated to social service.

Several groups such as BRAC itself, its organised Polli Shomaj (ward-based female group), local government administration people and positive-minded local villagers worked together to make this happen.

“All the aforementioned ill-practices have vanished because of a 10-month collective effort under the leadership of BRAC and its organised Polli Shomaj that moved first to involve the union’s administrative people and local villagers in bringing about tangible changes in the area,” says the local chairman Isahaq.

West Boragari village has a population of around 3,000.

Polli Shomaj at West Boragari set the example of developing an ideal village (or ward).

“Now it is my commitment to make ideal all the eight wards under our union parishad. The process will be started shortly,” chairman Isahaq expressed his strong willingness.

Mohammad Aliar Rahman, who was involved in gambling, family conflicts and violence in the village, said, “When the members of Polli Shomaj approached me to stop gambling and running CDs in the village, I was angry; later I thought deeply about the reasons why they took this initiative. Then I stopped such practices and also convinced others to stop.”

Now that he understands the negative impacts of the ill-practices, Rahman is more devoted to his business vending dry fish and sharecropping. “I am now happy with my wife and three children, one of whom is going to school regularly. I have also stopped being violent in my family.”

BRAC Nilphamari’s district manager Mohammad Zillur Rahman, Rangpur divisional regional manager Mohammad Humayun Rashid, local UP chairman Isahaq Ali, BRAC Polli Shomaj leaders and local people reiterated the desire to turn Boragari into an ideal union that comprises eight wards.

An “Ideal ward or village” declaration ceremony was held in front of a great gathering of 4,000 villagers on July 7, where all the dignitaries of the district, sub-district and union parishad headquarters gathered and delivered inspirational speeches. They said they had come away from the event “enlightened”.

Anna Minj, director of BRAC’s Community Empowerment Programme and Integrated Development Programme was also present on the occasion and encouraged the people present to further develop themselves and their community.

Encouraged by the success of West Boragari, the entire union is now more enthusiastic and optimistic, and people are working hand in hand to reach their expected goal.

Based on the noteworthy achievement at the village level, the target with the union is to have hundred percent achievements in education, health care, sanitation, road construction, tree plantation and other components as required locally.

More than 12,000 Polli Shomaj groups consisting of 7,50,000 members under BRAC’s Community Empowerment Programme organized across 55 districts have been working to exercise their citizenship rights, pursue their government allocated resources and develop their own communities through integrity and unity.

by Raphael Palma, Senior Manager – Materials Dev. & Comms, CEP & IDP