Journey through the grassroots: Inspiration from rural Bangladesh

June 28, 2012
by

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It was the year 2010. I had been working with the BRAC community empowerment programme for only six months back then, when I embarked upon a trip up at North Bengal, exploring BRAC’s community based grassroots forums of poor women, called Polli Shomaj.

It was the year 2010. I had been working with the BRAC community empowerment programme for only six months back then, when I embarked upon a trip up at North Bengal, exploring BRAC’s community based grassroots forums of poor women, called Polli Shomaj. Travelling with mixed feelings of open mindedness, combined with much skepticism of a newcomer to the development field, my trip took me on a visit to a meeting of a local Polli Shomaj group of mostly indigenous peoples in Joypurhat. I watched in amusement as the Polli Shomaj members flooded me with details of all the good work they have done, and took on board with pride to show me the house they have built for a local, landless poor in their community through acquiring government allocated khaas land (land that is reserved by the government for distribution to the landless poor). The enthusiasm of the young woman standing next to me piqued my interest even more, who I asked out of curiosity, “So, why do you come to the Polli Shomaj?”, to which she proudly replied, “Cause I want to help the poor in my community.” It stunned me to silence, as I was expecting a more “rational” answer from a villager like she comes here to get an opportunity to get a VGD safety net card perhaps. While her inspirational remark has stayed with me over time, as a newbie to the field, it for the first time made me realize that we at BRAC have created a cadre of grassroots social activists in our villages in Bangladesh. While scores of Polli Shomaj women won the local government elections last year, I read the recent case from Natore where Polli Shomaj members have stopped a Hilla marriage from occurring in their community, and wonder would I myself have dared to challenge local religious norms if I was in their place. I look at picture of a pre-primary school opened by Polli Shomaj members in Jamalpur on a volunteer basis, as flashbacks come to me from my last trip to a Polli Shomaj in Gazipur, and I remember the intensity with which these women were challenging the elite local government Chairman present, and I realize that there is much that I can learn from them myself – to be a woman of power. By Mehzabin Ahmed Management Professional Staff Community Empowerment Programme BRAC

1
Leave a Reply

avatar
1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
Subrata Kumar Das Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Subrata Kumar Das
Guest

Watching Pollisamaj activities is really an exciting experience.