WHEN Mosammad Yaron Begom’s husband left her and married another woman, she did not know how she would cope financially. She was 30, had no way to make a living, and needed to support her four children.
Today, she is increased the patch of land that she legally owns and looking forward to the future, but the journey was not easy.
Yaron, now 46, lives in Rangpur, in north Bangladesh. When her husband first left her, he maintained contact for a while, but did not provide any support for the family. She was forced to moved back with her parents.
She said: “I did not have anything, not even a skill to earn some money. My young children were unable to contribute. We all had to depend on my elder brother who had to manage a big family. We felt we’d lost everything from our life. We were very disappointed.”
Yaron’s parents gave her some land, but when she started to make money from it, her brothers became resentful and stopped her, saying they legally owned the land still. She had to fight for the right to own the land legally. On her 35 decimals (around 15,000 square feet) of land, she cultivated paddy for two seasons and saved money for her daughter’s marriage. She could not make enough and had to sell some land for a dowry, and she had two more daughters who were also old enough to get married. She sold a substantial amount of her land and was left with only 3 decimals (around 1,300 square feet) of land left for her and her son.
“We were struggling to have three meals a day.
“I tried hard but failed because I didn’t have any cash in hand to get started. My son had to work as a day labourer making garments. We were in a very hard situation but did not lose patience. One day my son went to Dhaka to earn more money, so I was alone.”
She remembers one day being greeted by a volunteer from Islamic Relief’s Bangladesh office, who told her about a project being run to improve people’s livelihoods. She expressed an interest in taking part and soon heard she had been selected to join.
In the middle of 2013, Yaron was given an interest-free loan from Islamic Relief and bought two goats. These two goats bred, and four months later, she had another six goats. Her son managed to get a better paid job at a clothes factory, and using his earnings she was able to buy 22 decimals (around 9,400 square feet) of land and buy a cow.
“2013 was the turning point for us,” she added. “I got some assets and was able to grow them. My son was able to contribute financially. We were able to meet our needs and save some money. We were not able to manage three meals a day but, like a friend, Islamic Relief came and encouraged us. I also received training in social and health-related issues, like early marriage, dowries, domestic violence and hygiene.
“This project has made a significant impact on my life.”