I find it hard these days to find positive things to acknowledge
or be proud of. Because to most of us Bangladesh has become
a nightmare; a country run by corrupt politicians and plagued
by unemployment, illiteracy, famine, robbery and murders.
to be a little positive about my beloved but ill-fated country.
The chance came through a very prominent NGO in Bangladesh.
They offered to take me to visit some of their ADP (Adolescent
Development Programme) projects. This programme is basically
for underprivileged adolescent girls of rural Bangladesh.
One of these programmes was a training course in photography.
given a list of 88 adolescent girl photographers, now working
commercially in rural areas. I decided to meet some of them
and I selected Natore district for my visit
was the harvesting season, so everyone in the village seemed
to be in a festive mood. Next morning I wanted to meet Mousumi
Akhter, a photographer of Bhottopara, a village under Bashudevpur
thana under Natore district. The distance between Natore town
to Bhottopara is nearly 25 miles. When I reached Bhottopara,
one of my colleagues suggested that we go to the local girls'
school where Moushumi was studying. When she heard that I
had gone from Dhaka to meet her, she was delighted.
accompanied all of us to her small yet dainty tin-shed cottage.
Mousumi was born in 1987 in Bhottopara, her father is a farmer,
and also has a grocery shop. Mousumi has two older sisters
who are married and one younger brother. One sister had passed
IA and other sister could not pass SSC. This year Mousumi
will appear in SSC examination from local Madnagar High School.
I asked Mousumi to tell me the story of how she became a photographer.
smiled. She said that her sister Mahinara Khatun was a project
supervisor (PS) of an adolescent development project, Natore.
At that time a big NGO was running a photography training
course for adolescent girls. Through their local offices they
were selecting interested girls for that training course.
At first a girl named Sabina Khatun of Madnagar Girls High
School was sent for that course, but she failed, she could
not follow the photographic course. Then the Natore local
office authority nominated Mousumi for that photographic course.
She agreed without any hesitation. With an official of Nator
local office Mousumi went to Savar training center of that
famous NGO, where the course took place.
was a wonderful experience for me," says the teenage
photographer. "Everything about the course was interesting."
provided a unique opportunity for all nine girls to get to
know one another. They were from different and distant parts
of Bangladesh. One girl came from Cox's Bazar, her name was
Rita Rani Dey, another girl, Shilpi Akhter, was from Chandpur.
Mousumi always remembers about her fellow trainees. Like Moushumi,
the other trainees started their careers as professional photographers.
says that they used YASHICA MF-2 during the training.
for any new photographer YASHICA is very easy to handle, and
you can take good pictures with it," says a smiling Moushumi.
seven days of training in Savar Training Centre, Mousumi came
back to her village Bhottopara and immediately took a three
thousand taka loan from the local NGO office and against the
loan she got a new YASHICA MF-2 camera from that NGO.
2003, Moushumi started photography commercially. She uses
Fuji-100 film for her camera. Generally she takes 20 taka
for each photograph. So, using just one reel Mousumi makes
a good profit. She gave me an account of her expenditure.
The price of a Fuji film was 90 taka, developing it cost 25
taka and the printing cost was four taka per photo.
generally uses one or two reels a month, from every reel her
average income is 300 taka. Generally she gets contracts to
take photographs in almost all family functions of Bhottopara.
Besides that she gets invitations from all schools and organisations
of Madnagar area. Mousumi has a dream to become a renowned
photographer, to this end she wants more training on photography.
her own marriage, she told me, she would marry that person
who will always support her photography. She will never stop
taking pictures because photography is now not only her passion,
but also her dream and business.