- Nilima's Success
- A collective initiative brings difference
- Combat with Arsenic: Winner's Story
- Sharif Uddin’s success with strawberry cultivation
- Humayan Mia: burden no more
- VERC Mother & Child Hospital: People's Hope
Nilima Rani Paul is an inhabitant of Vingraj village under Kaliakoir upazila of Gazipur district. Nilima was born in an ultra poor lower caste hindu family and she was the third among six sisters. It was difficult to get married for her. She could not avail schooling and got married at a very early age to a one eyed day labour. Notogol Prangopal, her husband lived in a hut. After 2 years of married life her husband’s 2nd eye was damaged and he became totally blind. At that time Nilima was pregnant, so it was too difficult to lead their life. When they could not find any alternative Nilima went back to her father and her husband took shelter of a relative where he learnt numericy, walking alone, going market etc. from a local blind welfare center. Nilima gave birth to a baby boy. After one year they came back to their hut and Nilima started to sale rice from door to door which she collected from a nearly rice mill on credit and her husband used to take care of the baby. But this business was very hard and less profitable. Then she took training to make packet with papers from a relative and started this small business of packet making. Her husband supplied this paper packet in the market. Within a few days their business created demand in the market but they could not supply enough according to demand due to lack of capital.
At that time Nilima came to know from her neighbours about VERC Micro-finance program that provides loan for improving lives and livelihood opportunity. In December 2009, she became a member of a micro-credit group named “Rajlaxmi Mohila Samity” of VERC. As a member she saved Tk. 20 per week. After 3 weeks of membership she received Tk. 10,000 as credit for the first time from VERC and purchased paper and other related materials. After 11 months she repaid the loan by regular installments from her expanded packet making business. After repaying the first loan she received Tk. 15,000 as credit for the 2nd time and invested in her business. On the 3rd time she received Tk. 35,000 and Tk. 50,000 as credit later. She invested all the amounts in her business. This business is very easy and profitable for her and now her husband also can help her. She earns Tk.25 per 1Kg of packet where the cost of raw materials is Tk. 15.
At present she has tin shed building and 10 decimals of land. She has a tube-well and hygienic latrine in her yard. Her one son and two daughters are continuing education. She does not think herself as a helpless woman. She praises VERC for the support to make her a self supported woman.
Krishnodiya community clinic is the first choice to pregnant women for services, but till few days ago Krisnodiya community clinic was the worst to the villagers especially to pregnant women and children in respect of services. There was a small bridge linking the clinic with the access road but that did not have any railing to protect the users from falling down to the running water flowing 20/30 feet below the bridge. As such, pregnant women did not dare to come to the clinic for regular check-ups (ante-natal and post-natal). Even in case of any emergency, they had to depend only on TBA supports. As a result, the services of safe delivery became very difficult and a good amount of medicine remained un-utilized. It was really shocking and in a sense a problem for all.
Md. Rokon Uddin the Chairperson of the Community Clinic Management Committee (CCMC) thought of the problem first which he considered to overcome through collective initiative. Then he discussed this issue with other members of CCMC in the monthly meeting in presence of PNGO and VERC representative. Everybody agreed with him and decided to collect bamboo and other necessary materials from door to door. SEDA- the PNGO agreed to share the finishing and beautification cost. Then the whole process of setting the railing was finished in a joyful and participatory manner within a few days.
As a result, the health staff became regular in the clinic and they are providing the needed service to pregnant mothers. Even the TBAs are also more active and can support as per need properly. Now, the community people know about the nature of services and quality and quantity of the medicine as well. They are no more going to local village doctors and traditional healers. The volume of antenatal and postnatal services with all kinds of primary treatment has increased. Inspired with this example, Bolta the nearby Community Clinic has initiated actions to reconstruct the needed access road to that clinic.
Miraculously; I started feeling better and consistently the spots on my body has started disappearing, the skin is growing smoother. Now, I feel fully fit for my job. I am pulling the rickshaw to bear my family on regular basis happily.” Md. Omar Faruk is an inhabitant of Binoy Nagar Maddhya Para village under Natherpetua Union of Monoharganj Upazila. He is operating his family by earning of rickshaw pulling with his satisfaction. Once, his family was not that solvent. At the time of his birth his parent’s family was in debt. Due to financial crisis, his father could not afford continuing his study after class four. So, he had to give-up his study and began to make earnings. At that time he went to Dhaka and got engaged in a service in a hotel. After a period of five years in service, he returned home. But the overall economic condition of the family did not get that much changed; he had to go out with his father for working in other’s land as day laborer and started rickshaw pulling. In the year 2007, he got married.
Faruk described that, in 2005, I observed some black spots in my body. I assumed that, those may be general skin disease. I etched those if and when needed. Sometimes, those were creating a burning sensation. I took medicine from village doctors but nothing got changed. At that time we were not know about Arsenicosis. We thought this is a general illness like other diseases. We were not aware about the root cause of Arsenicosis. At that time there was no Arsenic free deep tube well in our locality. Shallow hand tube wells were the only water source for us. By taking arsenic contaminated water, I got affected by Arsenicosis. Skin of my hands started falling increasingly turning rough and hard. Once, I felt very hard to hold my rickshaw handle for pulling. Due to my skin disease I was hesitant to be intimate with others.
Few days ago, VERC started working in our village on safe water. They tested water from all of our tube wells and identified me as an Arsenicosis patient. VERC people organized good number of meetings with us on Arsenic and safe water issues. I attended those meetings regularly. In that meeting, I noticed for the 1st time that I am affected by Arsenicosis. As per the discussions held in the meeting and as a remedial measure for me of the disease I started boiling pond water and started taking it for drinking and cooking purposes in my family. I also started taking green vegetables regularly. As there was no arsenic free tube well, I used pond water to get cured. Unfortunately, during the dry months the pond dries up and we could not collect water. In that situation I applied for a rain water harvesting system to Union Parishad and VERC. My house being located in an isolated place, they allocated me a rain water harvesting system for installation in my courtyard in March 2014. Now, all of my family members can use rain water for drinking and cooking purposes. Miraculously; I started feeling better and consistently the spots on my body has started disappearing, the skin is growing smoother. Now, I feel fully fit for my job. I am pulling the rickshaw to bear my family on regular basis happily.
Md. Sharif Uddin is an inhabitant of Chak Rajapur village under Manda upazila of Naogaon district. His father’s name is Md. Ataur Rahman. In his family he has old parents and a younger sister. Ataur Rahman has only 66 decimals of cultivable land where paddy is cultivated only once a year and that was the only earning source of the family. That could meet the basic needs of the family but it was really insufficient to meet up other needs of the family. For meeting the other expenses he had to work time to time as a day labor. His father is unable to work regularly due to old age. In the situation Sharif Uddin was bound to take responsibility of the family while studying in class ten and that was the end of his academic education. Sharif started working on daily basis in an orchard (kool garden) in addition to paddy cultivation in his father’s land. He gathered some experience on the modalities of income from kool gardening and on that basis he was encouraged to get involved in it but financial crisis became an obstacle to his idea. In 2008, VERC organized a male group in Chak Rajapur village to support agricultural activities with loan support along with offering IGA related training. After being acquainted with VERC activities, Sharif Uddin admitted himself as a member of VERC group. After 3 weeks of membership he received Tk. 6,000 as loan for kool gardening and in the first year he made a net income of Tk. 4,000. By then he came to know that strawberry is being cultivated in Bangladesh and it is more profitable compared to others.
When he was interested, VERC’s agriculture officer introduced him with Dr. Monjur Hossain, Professor, Rajshahi University. Then he received training on strawberry cultivation method. After repaying the first loan he received Tk. 10,000 as credit for the 2nd time and invested for strawberry cultivation in 2009. This year he sold strawberry worth Tk. 37,000 and earned Tk.19, 000. He was pleased with the earnings and decided to expand his project. On the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th times he received Tk. 20,000, Tk 30,000, Tk. 50,000 and Tk.1,00,000 as credit accordingly for strawberry cultivation. In 2012, he took 34 decimals of land on lease and cultivated strawberry in a total of 100 decimals of land and earned Tk. 2,60,000. Beside this he also earned Tk. 60,000 by marketing of other farmers strawberry. He promoted strawberry cultivation among the farmers of Naogaon, Natore, Joypurhat and Rajshahi districts. He also engaged himself in the marketing of strawberry in the area. At present, 6 regular workers and 7 part time workers are working in his projects and 3 workers working for strawberry marketing in Dhaka. All of his projects are environment friendly and he does not use any harmful pesticide and chemical fertilizer for cultivation.
At present, strawberry is being cultivated in limited areas in Bangladesh though there is huge demand for this in the country and overseas. Sharif Uddin thinks that it is possible to earn huge foreign currency by exporting strawberry if government and non-government support is available.
“I do not feel me as a burden to my family any more; a simple toilet has made it possible”- Md. Humayan Mia (55) is a differently able person. He lives in Bertola village of Panisar Union under Sarail Upazila. With his children and wife he has six members family. He makes earning as day labor and by his single earning he is to bear his family expenses. In 1988, he was affected by typhoid and that has left two of his legs paralyzed. His mobility needs others support. Humayan Mia says, “I move scrolling with my two hands only. Without other’s support, I cannot go outside. It is a big hassle for my family members when I need to go for toilet use. Sometimes, I feel very much tragic when I find none as caregiver for toilet use. In that situation I feel me as a burden for others. One day Md. Abu Samad of my neighbor informed me that VERC has started working in our village installing disable friendly toilet. He is our CBO president. In consultation with Samad, I applied for a toilet to the Union Parishad.
Few days later, two of the VERC staff visited my house and discussed about toilet installation. In that discussion they asked me which place would be better for me to toilet installation. After the discussion I myself made my mind to install the toilet in one corner of my living room. Considering my free access and easy use, one plastic chair with commode installed in the living room. One delivery pipe has connected the commode with our existing toilet pit. Now a days, I can use the toilet easily without other’s support. Two handles on both sides of the chair has made it very easy to sit on it. There is no odor inside the toilet. I myself can wash my hands with soap after use of the toilet. My wife Mamataj cleans the chair regularly”. Mamataj Begum says, “before this toilet installation, I was so much harassed to carry him to the toilet. It was so much difficult; sometime he had to toilet in bed and I had to clean it. After the installation of the chair toilet I am relieved of all the hassles.
Due to indoor installation of toilet, now he can use it any time even at night or on rainy days. It is very helpful for us. Now, my husband can earn sitting at home. He makes different handicrafts with bamboo. People come to our house to buy these products”. Humayan said with pride, “I do not feel me as a burden to my family any more; a simple toilet has made it possible”
VERC has been implementing its Health Program in Savar upazila of Dhaka district and in Mirsarai upazila of Chittagong district to ensure access of poor mothers and children in rural areas to safe delivery and health care services. VERC own funded Mother and Child Hospital in Savar was started in November 2004. The other VERC own funded Mother and Child Hospital has been rendering services since April 2013 at Mirsarai in Chittagong. The hospitals provide both outdoor and indoor health services and sale of medicine at a reasonable price to the local poor community, especially to the poorest with subsidy support. To this effect, VERC staff members make a generous contribution to the subsidy fund on a regular basis.
Savar Hospital: The hospital proves both indoor and outdoor services to the patients coming from Savar and adjoining areas.
Outdoor Services: Two MBBS (one consultant and one full time residential medical officer) doctors specially trained on maternal & child health is available to render outdoor services everyday. There are also manager, counsellor, lab technician, diploma nurses and paramedics to provide counselling to pregnant mothers, postnatal mothers and eligible couples for recommending FP methods. EPI program already started as new dimension in a collaborative manner with Savar Pourasava through Savar upazila health complex. Besides this free health camps were arranged by the hospital in Savar, Dhamrai and Singair upazilas as regular activity. Every health related international and national days are also observed by the hospital.
Indoor Services: For indoor treatment of patients 10 beds are available with an air conditioned operation theatre, a safe delivery room, an observation room and a post care room in the hospital. The treatment facilities that are available - antenatal & postnatal checkups, general weakness, fever & common cold, gastric, rheumatologic pain & inflammation, infectious diseases, pneumonia and Diarrhoeal diseases etc. The hospitals provides normal delivery and do some surgeries on Caesarean Section, Hernia, Hydrocele, Hysterectomy, Polypectomy, DE&C operation, Appendecectomy, Colecystectomy, Circumcision, Episiotomy repair, Tonsillectomy, Ovarian Tumour, DNS, Breast tumour, Prostectomy etc.