Working again after 30 days

November 18th, 2009

One of the people I met yesterday – Shahana is hoping that the good days are coming again. After thirty days without work, her husband, a casual farm worker, had gone to work that morning. For his efforts he will be paid 80tka which they can spend on food, or paying off the tab they have run up with the local shop during the lean period.

But Shahana isn’t complaining. In fact she is very happy, because for the first time in her life she has a secure place to live. Shahana is one of the people living in a special “cluster village” built by Practical Action to help people survive the annual flood disaster. This village, known as Salabhora, is just ten houses made out of tin, built on a special embankment which means they will be protected from the rising waters. There are two wells that they use to get clean water and there is one toilet for every two houses.

Shahana moved to the village when it opened 8 months ago. She was chosen by her peers in the local community, because she had no where secure to live with her husband and young baby, and because her husband has some mental health problems. She said that the best thing about the new village is that it gives her security, this means that her husband can travel further for work without having to worry about her because the villagers all look after each other.

It was great to end my last trip into the field with such a positive story. Although I have to say the peace of the village was very much shattered as we were leaving by the arrival of the Bangladeshi equivalent of an ice cream van. This bicycle has a cool box strapped to the back, and a loud speaker on the front playing Bangla music as loud as possible to attract the children. The white ice lollies which appeared cost only half a taka (slightly less than half a penny) and so are accessible to nearly everyone. Shahana’s baby isn’t old enough to appreciate ice cream yet … but it won’t be long.

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