Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  

Saying goodbye to poverty
Dhaka Ahsania Mission opens up new possibilities for distressed rural women in Jhenidah

'These are my dreams, my future, Majeda Khatun of Surjodia village of Nartima union in Moheshpur upazila, Jhenidah, happily points to the flock of chickens frolicking in her poultry farm.

'Being wife of a poor mason, Rafiqul Islam, I led a miserable life and was compelled to take up a minor job at a poultry farm of a neighbour to feed poultry birds. But nothing brought any financial relief. I was a dirt poor as before.'

'Then I enrolled myself as a member of Jege Uthi Mohilu Dal of Moheshpur Gano Kendra, a people's centre, founded by Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM). From then on fortune began turning in my favour.' That's how Majeda explains her transformation, from a distressed woman to an entrepreneur who owns a poultry farm.

'While serving at the neighbour's poultry farm, I took a determination to build a farm of my own. As I was desperate for money, I applied for loan under the Institution Building and Income Generation (IBI) programme of DAM. As soon as I got loan amounting to Tk 5,000, I was imparted skill development training by DAM workers to improve my standard of living' she says.

Later, she invested the money in banana cultivation and earned a net profit of Tk 8,000 from it. Utilising the profit and fresh loan, she set up a poultry farm with 100 chickens. After 34 days, she sold the chickens and earned Tk 7,000 profit.

But she faced obstacles from the wholesalers who failed to supply chickens to her on time. But she found a faithful person in Maheshpur for supplying chickens and poultry feed at a time. She sold chickens and got a net profit of Tk 22,000 from it which helped her in repaying loan of her 'Samity'.

Again she took a new 'entrepeneur loan' amounting to Tk 15,000 from DAM for development of the farm.

'Economic prosperity brought me social recognition', says Majeda. 'Neighbours invite me to their houses on various occasions and take my advice on treatment of sick poultry birds,' she says.

Majeda built two separate houses and rented 10 'kathas' of land for Tk 14,000 to set up a bigger farm where she will employ two on three workers as her helpers.

'I am today what I vowed to be several years ago,' says Majeda. 'I did not give up and DAM provided me the support I needed.'

According to DAM Programme Division senior official Md Abdul Hye, the IBI programme was launched aiming at empowerment of women through uplift of disadvantaged and destitute women. We have gone a long way towards the goal, he said.

Majeda Khatun, a member of Moheshpur Gano Kendra founded by Dhaka Ahsania Mission takes care of chickens at her poultry farm at Surjodia village of Nartima union in Moheshpur upazila, Jhenidah. PHOTO: STAR