A Glorious Achievement of Jelly Apa
Lovely and Glory
In Rangpur, on goingalong R.K.Road and to the bus terminal from the Medical Hospital gate, if we cast our eyes on the right side, we will see that there has developed an aristocratic residential area. We call it the Dhanmondi of Rangpur. While passing through this road, we will also notice the sign board of 'Angana' on the way side. Among the many dazzling sign boards of medical clinics and pharmaceuticals, the 'Angana' sign board stands out with a difference.
People in and around the town, particularly those who care for art and artifact, know what “Angona' is and who the person behind all this is. Her name is Kawsara Begum Jelly. Angana, the institute that she has set up, conducts multidimensional programmes. It's simultaneously a fashion house, a catering centre and a training institute.
On my way to Angana I was thinking of all these things. It also came to my mind that the person behind it had been the first of her kind in Rangpur. After reaching there, we first went to Angana's show room. There were various kinds of show-pieces, handicrafts, ready made garments and bags.
Some women were working there. When asked what they were doing, they showed us more show pieces. These were made of wax, glass, ceramics, wood and some other materials that I couldn't recognize. They also pointed at some glass paintings on the wall that they had made.
In the sewing and dying section, we found women engaged in doing block print, boutique, crochet, fabric paint, screen print etc. Jelly gives training to women not only in stitching and dyeng, but also in all these areas.
She then took me to an adjacent room where women were getting cooking lessons. They were taking lessons in making various kinds of Bangladeshi and foreign dishes including confectionary.
Jelly has also set up a beauty parlour beside the show room. Some young girls were getting training in the art of beautification. Obviously, Kawsara Begum was aware of the needs of the day and didn't hesitate to open up more opportunities for women.
However, to come to the position where she is today, Kawsara Begum Jelly needed a lot of patience and strong will. Daughter of Late Abdul Karim Sarkar and Mrs. Rabeya Begum, Jelly was the fourth among seven brothers and sisters. She did her S.S.C and H.S.C and Bachelor's degree from Kurigram. In 1982 she got married to Md. Anwar Hossain who is now working as Thana Food Controller in Kishoreganj of Nilfamari district.
After marriage, she received a Primary School Teachers' Training (PTI). She mentioned by the way, that she was offered a job in a Govt. school at that time. But she didn't take it thinking of her children who were then very young.
Her eldest son Tanvir Hossain Shuvo often remained sick in his childhood. So he had to be brought to Dhaka regularly for medical check-up. And every time Jelly came to Dhaka she managed to get some training from Ms. Munira Sultana of 'Apan Ghar'. Thus she received training in needle work, block print, boutique, handicrafts, cooking and beautification. She also had occasional training from 'Mishuk', although it was 'Apon Ghar' from where she learned the most.
When I asked her how she had started all this, she replied, “After receiving training in boutique in 'Dinajpur Multi-Women Society', I went to Parbatipur where I started my work first. It was in 1990. My aim then was to bring solvency to my family by adding to the income of my husband. I had started with needle work and block batik at my own house.”
When the demand for embroidered and block and batik dresses started to rise, Jellystarted training women, mostly poor girls and widows who were eager to learn to do something that would help them earn some money. Now Jelly gives training to students, housewives and others who wish to set up organisations like hers. Today, there are more than one hundred and fifty women working in her workshops in different showrooms, and they receive part of the profit from the sold products.
In 1993 she came back to Rangpur for the purpose of her children's education. Here she set up 'Angana' and gradually her working field started to expand more and more. 'Angana' as an institution of handicraft products and a training centre rapidly became familiar. Moreover, day by day her cooking department became popular and there was a great demand for her food items. Now she makes a good variety of birthday cakes and also caters for different parties.
At one point, Kawsara Jelly took a loan of fifty thousand taka from BSIC and started a fast food shop named 'Pastry World'. At the same time, she started supplying various kinds of snacks like, singara, samusa, puri, tikka kebab etc. to Update, a one- stop shopping mall in town. Update also began to market frozen food prepared by her organisation. Every day food items worth eight hundred taka on an average were being sold .
But it was very unfortunate that her shop Pastry World was attacked by some hooligans some time ago and this section is closed now. Recently she has reduced her business work to some extent as she has started building her new house beside R.K.Road. However, she expresses her will to start working again with full vigour once the construction work is finished. She has already set up the new showroom of Angana.
Jelly never regards her profession as womanish. With full confidence in her work, she says, “Those who feel hesitant about their capability can never attain to a worthy position.” About her own profession she says, “I believe that it's important to be self-reliant and I am happy. I help other people to be self-sufficient too, and that gives me a great satisfaction.”
Kawsara Begum Jelly is not only a successful business woman but also a successful mother. Her eldest son Shuvo is a student of first year, Law and Justice Department of Rajshahi University. Her daughter Dina Mehjabin got GPA- 5 in S.S.C examination and is now studying at Rangpur Cantonment Public College.
All the members of her family show great appreciation of her work and are proud of her achievement. But it is the cooperation extended by her husband, Md. Anwar Hossain, which has inspired and helped her most in her work. Now she earns more than one lakh taka a month.
Jelly is an example for us of what a person can achieve if one truly sets one’s heart to it. It wouldn't be too much to say that she has not only created employment opportunities for many women, but also brought to the far-off district like Rangpur a touch of modernity by introducing fast food shops, boutique centres and the fashion of beauty parlours. May the light of her creativity and glorious success spread all over the districts of the northern region and inspire many more women through out the country to stand on their own feet.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006