Standing on a distant piece of land in the middle of the haor (wetlands) of Sunamganj in northwestern Bangladesh, a sea surrounds the school. The water stretches as far as the eyes can see, with a few patches of croplands peeking through the horizon. It is the only school in an area of eight square kilometers.
Deep inside the chaotic makeshift settlements of Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, is a spacious, shaded, colourful place. A bamboo structure with handmade decorations hanging from the walls. Curious onlookers gather outside the thatched windows, attracted by the rhythm.
This little indoor playground looks like utter colourful chaos. Blank pages smeared with rainbows and imperceptible shapes. The air resounds of age-old songs and simple poetry. There is a grown-up here, but she too is immersed in the madness. But there is a method to this madness.
In the light of World Cities Day, we explore a frugal home-grown solution for communities living in urban poverty - a community-led process of building affordable homes that started in the heart of Jhenaidha of south-western Bangladesh.
From a bird’s-eye-view, if one were to look at the vast settlements where people from Rakhine state of Myanmar are currently residing, they would see many pink dots purposefully moving about. This rush of pink are BRAC’s women humanitarian workers delivering life-saving services, specifically to women and girls who make up more than half of the 589,000 people who have come to Bangladesh since 25 August.
From the congested, waterlogged streets of Dhaka to flooded farmlands across the country, Bangladesh has enough problems right here. What is the point in looking to the sky when all it brings is rain? Why on earth are we trying to get to space?
You may have read the news today. A teenager was harassed on her way back from school. A housewife, raped and murdered. Just the other day, you read about the rape of an eight-month-old baby. Do these stories bother you? Or did you fold up the newspaper and sigh in relief thinking, “At least my daughter is safe.”