Photo: Margit Palokangas
A dream long held starts to come true
|The seed of this dream to empower women in my areas was sown in 1985. The birth of Sabalamby Unnayan Samity (SUS) was in 1986.
I had nurtured this dream for long time, to empower the women in my area of Netrakona. I was not able to implement the dream because I lacked appropriate knowledge, skills, ideas, advice and co-operation.
|But the dream did become real! How the first seeds were sown to make it come true is like something out of a fairy tale. It started in 1985 with five local women and three male friends. The first executive board of SUS was constituted with them. Backed up by their inspiration for the development of poor women in Netrakona I started to work.
I had little experience and a haphazard knowledge of development. Much just came to me. With the full backing and support of the committee the organization gradually started to work with common problems appearing every day.
The initial project started with only two sewing machines; one I had inherited and the other one was a donation from Social Welfare Department. As a first step, we had started a training on tailoring for 15 abandoned poor women and a non-formal school for 30 slum children who had dropped out of the normal school.
The school started at Chandranath High School situated next to my house. Luckily, we got permission to use an extra room free of cost from 7 am to 10 am. I collected books from the booksellers of Netrakona town who donated them free of cost. We appointed a part-time teacher, a poor woman who had been oppressed by the Pakistani army during the time of the liberation war. I paid her a small salary of taka 25 monthly from my own income.
Later, I felt to do something for the malnourished children from our nearby slum area. The idea was to reduce malnutrition of 30 slum children by giving them milk. I proposed my idea to the committee and we decided to give a glass of milk once a week to each child from our own pocket by rotation. A doctor joined with our team for a couple of months. He helped us to weigh the children monthly and provided other support.
We had nothing else apart from these kinds of small necessary activities because we lacked financial resources and proper knowledge on development ideas.
I will always remember that time. I am grateful to all of my well- wishers and committee members who cordially backed all my initiatives. Due to their strong trust in me I made several challenging decisions. The foundation of mutual respect, love and trust among all of us was so strong and continues up to today.
These historical snapshots commemorate 30 years of SUS