On the southern coast of Bangladesh, at the mouth of the Ganges, Rashida Begum lives with her husband and children in a village fighting to improve life.
This area of the world is prone to destructive floods. Often when a family gets ahead, some sort of natural disaster will set them back again. Rashida grew up watching this cycle, feeling her own powerlessness to change her life.
When Food for the Hungry (FH) came to Rashida’s village, FH staff invited women to join a savings group. One of the goals of the savings group is to empower women. In the group, women learned God blessed them with a really valuable resource to overcome poverty—their individual giftings.
Rashida joined the group and learned to read, manage finances, practice better hygiene and nutrition, and treat illnesses. She was so enthusiastic about the health lessons that the group appointed her as the health leader.
She found that doing the simplest things like hand washing prevented her children from getting sick. As she witnessed this one simple change, she felt her confidence increase and thought that achieving other improvements might be possible.
A main part of the savings group is to save money collectively. Each member puts in an agreed amount each week. Members can take out loans and pay it back with a set amount of interest. At the end of the year, the money is split up and given back to each group member, and everyone makes money.
Rashida and her husband.
Rashida started thinking about how her husband worked to provide for her family, and she decided she wanted to help him increase the family income.
She shared her idea with the other members of the savings group, and they suggested that she start a small business of her own. The idea scared and excited her, but after talking it over with her husband, they decided she should take the risk.
Rashida took out 8,000 ($103 USD) taka loan from her group. Her mother-in-law also helped her by lending her 3,000 ($39 USD) taka. From the money, she bought wood, fencing and a few chickens to start a small poultry farm.
She worked really hard on her poultry farm. She learned to feed the chickens nutritious food and give them proper, homemade vaccinations.
Now her poultry farm is no longer small—she owns 70 chickens that produce hundreds of eggs. Her husband also helps her with the farm, so it’s turned into a family business. Each week, she earns 2,000 ($26 USD) taka by selling eggs. She was able to pay off her loan and use the money to get nutritious food and send her kids to school.
Now, Rashida knows that change can happen. She no longer looks at her village and believes that the women are powerless to change anything. “My future dream is to make my farm bigger and make work opportunities for other women of our community,” says Rashida. “I also see a bright future for my children, and I am very happy for that.”