l by Swadesh Roy
(March 16,2012, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) It was early eighties; I was in a village. It was a remote village of south west of Bangladesh. There was no brick built road in that area. . It was rainy season. From the morning it was heavily raining. We had no way to pass time without reading novel and gossiping. Some of the women of that house were swing Katha (a kind of wrapper) and playing ludu and carom board. All the birds were trying to save their feather from the rain water to enter under the leaf of the tree. There were no man, not even dogs were in the muddy road. Roads were over flowing by the rain water. Even than, the rain was so heavy that, we could not see any thing in the road or ground. Now a days we could not think that type of country side in Bangladesh. But that morning one woman came to that house where we were. Her clothes were almost wet. . With an umbrella she came in that bad weather. To see her, I could not understand why she has come in this rough weather? But after a while I understand that, she has come to teach, how to make an oral saline. This is now popular not only in Bangladesh all over the world. It is popular as `or-saline’. This oral saline is the only low cost effective treatment for diarrhea. It is an innovation of Bangladeshi scientist but it had to be made popular in whole country. In early eighties that type of woman and their devotion made it popular in Bangladesh. That is why now Bangladesh is almost diarrhea free country. But who were these women; in that, house in village, I saw that woman taught them how to make this oral saline. After finishing her work she went to another home of that village but it was still raining. After her leaving, I asked the family member of that house, who is this lady? Why she is doing that. They answered me; she is a worker of BRAC. It is their duty. I was astonished that, is it possible for a Bangladeshi lady to work with this type of sincerity? But most of the family members of that house told me, they were very sincere.
BRAC women’s microfinance meeting in the Korail slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Photo credit: Matt Styslinger)
It was early eighties. After that, long time has been passed. It was in 1998. Bangladesh was flooded by a devastating flood. I was engaged for collecting the news of flood effected area. To collect the news of the flood I went several districts of Bangladesh. One day I hired a boat and went to a remote village of Manikgang district of Bangladesh. It was more than one hundred kilometer from the capital of Bangladesh. The village was more than 10 kilometers from the main road. By a boat I enter the village. Village was submerged by the flood water. I saw that, there was no road in the village; all were under water. Even then flood water entered into most of the houses. People were eating dry food. In that situation, I found in a room of a home that, some boys and girls are reading there class books. I asked them, is their school open? They said that, there school teacher will come. At first I could not understand. But after listening to them, I understood that, the teacher of the BARC school will come to student by boat and she will look after her students. Her school has been submerged by flood water; all the muddy roads of the village were under two or three feet water. So she is looking after her student by riding a boat. BARC school is one kind of primary school in Bangladesh. It is run by the world biggest non government organization (NGO) BRAC. These primary schools run in a method that, one teacher is for one school. So it is called one teacher-one school method. I see it many villages of Bangladesh. But I was astonished to see the devotion of the teacher. Then I recalled that in early eighties I saw this type of devotion of a BRAC worker in a remote village of south -west part of Bangladesh. She came in a heavily rainy day to teach the villager making technique of oral saline.
However, in early eighties I did not think deeply about the devotion of that lady worker but in 1998 it knocks my mind. Therefore, I started to think, why this workers are so much devoted, who is the person that he has made them such devotee for work. Then I made up my mind that, I will talk with the founder of BRAC.
I made an appointment with him later and I talked with him more than three hours. He is Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder of the BARC. Discussing many things with him I understood that, he is a special type of visionary person. He has not only founded BRAC, but also created a group of devoted people in Bangladesh. He is a natural motivator. I can tell it, if any one talks with him for an hour, he will be a fan of him.
The year 2012 is a remarkable year for this organization. It is forty years of BRAC’s existence. It started in a very small scale but now it is the biggest NGO of the world. Now it is not only biggest organization, but also a story of success in the world.
Swadesh Roy, Executive Editor, The daily Janakantha, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He can be reached at