Cox’s Bazar is the world’s longest sea beach, and littered with holidaymakers and colourful beach umbrellas throughout the year. Less than an hour’s drive from the string of shiny hotels, however now lies a mega city of black tarp tents.
An estimated 507,000 people are now living on the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar, and more than half of them are children. Most of them have arrived with zero possessions, apart from the clothes they wore while making the long and dangerous journey.
Nine-year-old Amin plays with a rhino and a horse in a land of make believe. It has been a week since he arrived in Bangladesh with his family. Their route took them through the sea for two days and across deep valleys and thick jungle for another three days.
Imagine a world where there is no access to financial services. You cannot save, which means you cannot set aside money for the future. You cannot access a loan, which means you are shut off from a limitless number of opportunities, including investing in an enterprise, purchasing a home or land, or maintaining household expenses when cash is tight. You don’t have insurance or any kind of buffer against shocks, such as medical emergencies in the family, a sudden loss of a job, or natural disasters. Would you be able to manage?
It is said that the total number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by 12-17 per cent if women’s access to resources were equivalent to that of men. Still perceived to be a male-dominated field, the agriculture sector in Bangladesh has seen a dramatic rise in female participation, now exceeding 50 per cent. October 15th is International Day for Rural Women and here are some of their stories.
Jannat is not your typical microfinance client. Like an increasing number of BRAC’s microfinance clients, she is not a member of a women-only savings and borrowing group, and did not take a loan to set up a micro-enterprise. Instead, her and her husband are part of new sphere of microfinance clients that is starting to catch on - migrant workers.
In Bangladesh, far too many students do not get the chance to go to college. In a country where 30 per cent of the population are young (10-24 years), it remains evident that much of the potential remain untapped, and too many young voices go unheard. Medhabikash, a scholarship programme that funds meritorious and underprivileged students, offers a second chance at learning- the kind that transcends social and economic boundaries.
In some Bangladeshi schools, talking about problems is getting easier, and it’s about time. Especially when more than half of the students drop out of school once they complete their primary education. Various social pressures faced by adolescents contribute to the high level of dropouts.
BRAC Microfinance has grown to become one of the largest providers of financial services for the poor. It currently serves 4.4 million clients spread across the country. And this includes one of the most hard-to-reach areas – the chars.
As dusk falls in the small town of Pachargali, Rangpur, dozens of lanterns blink to life, marking a clearing surrounded by corn and paddy fields. A crowd gathers around a makeshift stage. BRAC’s popular theatre is back in town, a much awaited event for this village.