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November 7, 2019

The young Sylheti dream team on the radio

Radio is an inexpensive yet influential tool that can create positive changes in social belief systems and behaviours.

Community radio is especially powerful in the way that serves a local community, covering the interests and issues relevant to its members, which mass media outlets often overlook.

On the outskirts of Moulvibazar, north-eastern Bangladesh, sits a two-storied building abuzz with the young, powerful voices of Radio Pollikontho – an initiative of BRAC’s community empowerment programme. This community radio station is a platform for people in rural Sylhet to express their stories in their own language and style.

Having started its …

November 7, 2019

Revitalising livelihoods through self-help groups

Imagine a self-help group. A place where people unite to strengthen their rights and livelihoods.

A majority of these people once had no voice in the society. Women lagged behind due to the prevalent patriarchal culture. They were forced into marriages at early ages, deprived of education.

They lacked economic independence. Earning and decision making were left solely to men.

Things began to change when the country’s largest gas field started operations in their neighbourhood. It led to many people losing their land and usual sources of income. Uncertainty and vulnerability loomed.

The Jibika project was launched in 2015 …

October 24, 2019

Celebrating the stories of 2 million women

As a participant of BRAC’s ultra-poor graduation (UPG) programme, Lipi has achieved great success. When she joined the programme in 2015, she chose to build a ‘rice plus fish’ enterprise. After a training on managing business, she received a small plot of land to grow rice and fish.

Lipi had faced poverty and food insecurity her entire life, a reality made worse when she lost her home to the devastating Cyclone Sidr in 2007. She slept under the sky without food and water for days while along with her husband, worked to rebuild their home and care for their …

October 23, 2019

Taking on tech: 3 stages that every NGO needs to know

Two-year-old Ghislane Ihimbazwe was in pain for 48 hours before being taken to a district hospital in Rwanda.

It was too late by the time she arrived.

A blood transfusion was her last resort, but it would take a six-hour-long round trip for a blood donor to arrive.

Ghislane’s mother, having lost all hope, had already started to tell her family about the sad news.

Meanwhile, a lab technician’s phone flashed a message: two units of blood was on its way.

Soon the mechanic whir of a drone could be heard circling the hospital. It dropped a cardboard box …

October 22, 2019

Standing by those who have the least

She lived in a shack under a bamboo grove. The thatched roof had countless holes. The walls were made of loose sheets, torn sacks, and pieces of cloth. I feared that the house could fall apart any second.

She lived with her two children and husband, who suffered from a physical disability. I noticed they looked very pale – a sign of chronic malnutrition. The family relied on begging and often had only one meal a day. Sometimes they ate nothing. They had lived in isolation from society for so long that she could not muster the confidence to …

October 13, 2019

Tackling the mental health crisis during a disaster

In emergency situations like these, mental health conditions take a toll on affected populations, diminishing levels of wellbeing. It may take an infinite amount of time for these groups to heal as they find it difficult to cope and recover.

As physical scars resulting from disasters such as a flood can visibly outweigh the impacts of psychological trauma in affected communities, it becomes easy for emergency responders to turn a blind eye to the underlying need for psychosocial assistance. Hence, international guidelines recommend that psychosocial and mental health support remains a major priority during an emergency response.

In July …

October 13, 2019

Educating a generation: Bangladesh’s barefoot teachers

Rubia teaches 25 children with neurodevelopmental disabilities who would otherwise have no access to special education. She went through comprehensive training on how to work with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

“I have never stop learning as a teacher,” says Rubia Akhter, “I recently received vocational training so that I can help my students with their crafts, which helps to improve their sensory and motor skills.”

Rubia started teaching in 2003 in one of BRAC’s primary schools. She had no formal qualifications.

Now in 2019, more than 12 million children have graduated from BRAC’s pre-primary and primary schools because of women …

October 10, 2019
BLOG Health

Scars that last a lifetime

Childhood shapes the people we go on to become. It is a time for playing and learning, surrounded by those we trust and who keep us safe.

For children whose trust has been broken, who are made to suffer from acts of grotesque exploitation, the sense of security is lost, almost completely.

Sexual abuse against children is more common than we think.

From January to July of this year, 613 rapes of children were reported in Bangladesh. There were 155 cases filed for sexual harassment. 39 children attempted suicide. And 190 committed suicide. 

These are only numbers of cases …

October 10, 2019
BLOG Youth

West African authors elevate girls’ voices through storytelling

This summer, BRAC published a new collection of life skills books designed for girl participants in its empowerment and livelihoods for adolescents (ELA) programme in West Africa. The programme provides safe spaces in girls’ communities where they can come together to sing, dance, play games, and socialise. The ELA clubs are led by peer mentors, who facilitate training on life skills, sexual and reproductive health, financial literacy, and livelihood opportunities.

The new life skills books complement the ELA curriculum, navigating topics like forced marriage, early pregnancy, domestic violence, and other key issues that many girls in the programme face. We …

October 9, 2019
BLOG History

Jamdani treasure hunt across three continents

Jamdani is a national treasure in Bangladesh.

A wedding ceremony is not complete without a Jamdani, and the streets on any public holiday are adorned with women wearing Jamdani in all colours and designs.

But all of this might not have happened if, one day in 1970, a young man had not made some enquiries and decided to dig into an art form going extinct, and start on a treasure hunt as rich as the fabric itself…

The earliest mention of the origin of Jamdani, and its development as an industry can be found in Kautilya’s Arthashastra (Book of Economics, …

October 3, 2019

Climate strike and the dengue outbreak: Is there a link?

The world has just witnessed the biggest climate movement in history. People, young and old, mobilised to the streets in millions to protest the climate catastrophe that looms, if a concerted effort by the global powers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions does not take place.

What could this movement mean for Bangladesh?

For starters, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identifies Bangladesh being at specific risk from climate change. We have high exposure to sea-level rise, and extreme events such as salinity intrusion, droughts, erratic rainfall, and tidal surges.

Not only do these events cause incredible distress to …

September 24, 2019

The growing water gap in Dhaka, one of the world’s fastest growing cities

How many glasses of water do you drink per day?

While the number may be easy to recall, is it likely not as easy to recall your daily water usage? Probably not.

Most of us don’t pay much attention to our overall use of this vital resource – and we use a lot of it, as confirmed in BRAC Institute of Governance and Development’s latest State of Cities report focusing on water governance.

The report showed that we could be looking at a major water crisis in the near future if Dhaka’s current water usage levels continue.

Dhaka is