You’d be forgiven for thinking microfinance has gone wildly out of fashion. The “development caravan”—defined as the wagon train of poverty interventions that excite donors—has pulled away from micro-lending, drawn to more powerful things like BRAC-style graduation programmes (which aim to “graduate” people from extreme poverty into a sustainable livelihood) and bKash-like mobile money, according to recent coverage in The Economist.
Waiting at an airport on my way home from a trip to Malaysia, a man walked up to me hesitantly and asked if I could help him fill out his immigration card. He was a Bangladeshi man in his mid-40s. While filling out his documents, we started talking and I learned that he was on a migrant worker’s visa and used to be a chef at a resort. When I asked him if he was headed home for a vacation, he informed me with a stoic expression that he was being deported for being Hepatitis B positive.
There are 232 million people living outside their country of origin, and Samina Begum from Bangladesh was almost one of them. There is an estimated 8 million Bangladeshis working abroad, sending back remittances of around 12bn USD. This year alone, another 1.4 million – almost 1 percent of the country’s population – joined them.
Moksedul, a Bangladeshi migrant worker who resided in Qatar for three years, almost believed that his voice was never to be heard; that his stories would remain untold. In fact, it almost came as a shock to him when he was asked to get up on stage and speak up, and speak up he did.