Food for the Hungry (FH) always enters a community with an exit plan. Our goal is to get communities to a point of stability without FH intervention. This is what happened with Dumni, a community in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
FH worked in this community for 8 years before graduating the community in 2010. Since then, the community has maintained many of the programs that FH initiated, according to Samsunnahar Shikha, the secretary of the Community-Based Organization (CBO) that took over after graduation.
“The values FH taught us have changed our family and community life,” Samsunnahar said.
She says that the biggest impact made by FH was in the advancement of women.
Samsunnahar Shikha is the secretary of the the community’s CBO.
“Before FH, women lived inside their homes; they never left, they never met together, they never financially contributed to their families, they never had the chance to be united together,” Samsunnahar said.
However, introducing savings groups have changed this. Teaching the women how to come together and empower one another has left a lasting footprint.
“Now, the mental development of the women has advanced significantly,” Samsunnahar said. “They can lead savings groups, they can speak in front of hundreds and thousands of people. They never had that confidence and they are using their voice for good.”
Samsunnahar said the women her community continue to speak out against discrimination and social injustice such as child marriage. Additionally, she says the women are more equipped with new skill sets.
“There were no opportunities for women to work around here,” Samsunnahar said. “Now, with the training from FH, they have started businesses.”
One example of this is a woman named Nurbanu, who learned how to sew through FH training. Without the training she would not have been able to help provide for her family because she did not receive much education after getting married at age 13. However, the training taught her about income generation and gave her the skills to start a business.
Nurbanu learned how to sew from an FH training group and has since run a clothing embellishment business.
“The savings group gave me money to buy a sewing machine,” Nurbanu said. “An FH worker gave me the idea and the training. I would not have been able to do any of that without FH.”
Now, she continues with her business past the community’s graduation.
Samsunnahar says women like Nurbanu are now more recognized in the community for the positive impact they can have.
“We have been able to be more independent and more active members of our society,” Samsunnahar said.
The groups have also helped in several other ways.
“Before FH, most of the children were not in school, girls were marrying very young, we did not have latrines and the communication within the community was very poor,” Nurbanu said. “Four things are very different now after getting to work with FH: communication, hygiene, youth education and women empowerment.”
Despite all the good that has persisted after the community’s graduation, the transition has not been without difficulty. Samsunnahar said it was a challenge to learn how to run and organize the groups but they were able to raise money for a CBO worker who helps organize their groups from within the community.
Presently, there are 43 savings groups in the community. Samsunnahar said some members have left, but the groups persist on and some women have even joined the group after witnessing the benefits of its work.
“Before, our community faced a lot of challenges but now we can work on them together,” Samsunnahar said. “The people are happy.”
To learn more about how to help communities like this, click here.