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I belong to a very poor family. My father was so poor the family could not even get a proper day’s meal. So, most of the days we had to wait to get any food.

As a result, I and my brothers and sisters were often sick. I lost 3 of my brothers due to illness at a young age. Treatment and medicine was a dream as we didn’t have any money.

When I got married I came to live with my in-laws. I found myself bound again with the same problems because my husband was also from a poor family. When my children were born, our family grew but his income didn’t increase.

One day he decided to start a business from which he can make some more income for the family. But we did not have any savings and no one was interested in lending us money without high rates of interest. So, we could not realize our dream and our condition remained unchanged.

Then I came to know that there are a new couple in our village who are working for a NGO and who were looking for people who can join in their savings group. I was interested and decided to hear them out. So I went to meet with them along with some of my neighbours and they told that they were trying to help us. They asked us to form groups where we can get literacy training, make savings and can even take loan from our own savings in time of need and they will also give us training for income generating projects so that we can invest our money in different activities and get better lives.

Without delay I enrolled for a group. Suddenly I felt hopeful. Here were activities that can make a difference and I can take part in changing the fate of my family at last.

Uzzala Rani Das
Uttar Balia

I began work as a Community Development Organiser (CDO) with Baptist Aid-BBF Total Community Development Centres (TCDC) in September 2003. That was in their Mymensingh project. Mymensingh is in the north of Bangladesh.

I and my wife worked there as a couple. Our role was to motivate and help people from the village so that they come and join our programme. When I started working there, I found a readymade field as the people there already knew about the project and a few groups were already running. So it was easy for us to work there and run our activities as the field was prepared beforehand.

Then, the opportunity to work in Chandpur TCDC project came in 2008. We were transferred from Mymensingh to Chandpur in November 2008 and received training on the goals, objectives and activities of this project. Among the 10 CDO couples who joined on October, I and my wife and another couple had previous experience in Baptist Aid projects. But still, when our trainers were explaining to us the background, goals and objectives of the project, I was interested because this project seemed much more methodical and professional to me.

After the training, I went to my assigned village, Char Amanullah (Dasherhatpara) and started work. This was nothing like going to my first village in Mymensingh. I neither got any ready made field nor were any groups already formed here. Though I knew that a survey had already been done among these people, it still seemed to me that they were hesitant about us. It was challenging for me to do my best and create interest among the village people for our programmes.

I started talking with them and sharing our programme objectives and our dream for the community. I tried to explain how they will benefit if they become members of our activities and be able to improve their lives. I also tried to show them the differences of our programme comparing the work of other organisations. Gradually they became interested in our activities. Now, I have one pre-school, one tutorial, two AFL and two Savings groups running successfully in my centre and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing the changes in their lives and enjoying broad smiles in these needy people’s faces after couple of months.

I believe we can make a difference and we will do so.

Bipul Das
Community Development Organiser for Char Amanullah (Dasherhatpara)

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