In times when I begin to lose all hope and despair engulfs me, I desperately search around for any glimpse of optimism for my own sanity. Living in Bangladesh is an everyday adventure in itself, and when on a regular basis there is news of extortion, corruption, unsolved murders, mysterious disappearances and many more such atrocities, one is bound to feel lost and helpless wondering whether he or she will survive the very next moment.
But just the other day, I found my ray of hope. It was right there, I just never happened to look properly. As a part of field trip organized from my current work station at BRAC centre, I visit the nearby Korail slum (which is one of the most populated slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh) with a small delegation of foreign consultants. What more was I to expect other than some usual slum scenarios that we see in pictures and videos; dirty, swampy, raggedly dressed men and women and bare bodied soiled children with runny noses. I admit I was ignorant because reality was a little different.
As I walked down the cemented roads, I could see that the slum in itself was a self supported organism. It has everything in it to support the minimum requirements of any marginalized person. If I had time to venture, then I probably would have discovered a lot more but within that short period of time, I was exposed to some important elements of living that was being taken care of effectively by BRAC’s programs to ensure a certain level of quality living.
Slums are not recognized by the state and hence its people are automatically deprived of the basic needs and rights. Out of the various initiatives of BRAC’s health programs, Manoshi project deals with maternal health and care. I felt proud when I learned that because of such country wide initiatives; Bangladesh has not only achieved but gone way below the marginal line of MDG for reducing the maternal deaths by half.
Looking at the smiling and potential faces of children at the BRAC’s pre-primary school program in the slum, somehow I knew that the future of Bangladesh is not completely bleak. These were children who will one day rise with their heads held high to support the country on their capable shoulders. Their current backgrounds or living conditions have nothing to do with their future potentials in life.
Bangladesh is a country with immense potential, in terms of its resources and people. We just need to realize the most effective way to utilize all the elements and bring out the best solutions. I may have been disheartened for a little while, but I woke up once again feeling fresh and hopeful about the country that fought for its language and freedom, and surely will rise with confidence beating all odds.