“I don’t want to think about my life. It’s a very hard story.” This is the nation’s cry that representatives of the BRAC Programme hear countless times. Village communities in Bangladesh have withstood such extreme poverty conditions that the majority of the population are illiterate, cannot afford to eat, and many families have to separate from and relocate children in order to provide efficient child-rearing.
According to The Guardian, the BRAC Programme, otherwise known as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, seeks to equip impoverished individuals with accessibility to tangibles in the form of livestock so that they are able to financially sustain themselves within two years. Rather than providing a temporary fix, “poverty graduation,” as BRAC calls it, develops confident, self-sustaining people through financial education, literacy and learning to care for livestock. Children especially benefit from economic improvements as the likelihood of displacement has decreased and education opportunities have increased. In the village of Karli, every child now attends school, which is an increase from just 20 percent ten years ago.
BRAC also serves as a source of relief for recent disasters such as the fire that took place Dec. 4 in Korail, “the biggest slum” located in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Within the first hour of the fire, BRAC staffers were at ground zero helping facilitate first aid camps, provide food and water and connect victims with family members. The fire that rapidly spread destroyed 495 homes making 2,000 people homeless. According to the BRAC response team, it will cost 12.4 million Bangladesh taka (USD$156,000) to rebuild what was lost. Fortunately, thanks to the seven-day donation drive supporting the victims of Korail, BRAC has assisted in raising 8.8 million takas.
Continual success occurs in Bangladesh as a result of BRAC efforts; 90,000 families a year receive assistance and a total of more than “1.7 million households have been transformed.” Thirty-five-year-old Rezia Begum recalls she “was half-naked when BRAC arrived, I didn’t even have clothes.” That was almost 20 years ago; now she owns her own land and animals, all six of her children have received an education, and she participates in charitable acts rather than relying on contributions.
As one of the world’s leading organizations that targets poverty, the BRAC Programme seeks to empower impoverished people by tackling poverty “at the root, and plants trees of hope.” It is this newfound hope that can transform the narrative from heartache into joy in overcoming the conditions of poverty.
– Amy Williams