Today marks the International Day of Older Persons, a day dedicated to raising awareness about issues affecting older people, and the need to ensure people can grow old with dignity. Here at Islamic Relief, we’re shedding light on a project in Rangpur, Bangladesh, which is helping to create new livelihoods for vulnerable members of the community, including older persons, so that they can support themselves and become self-reliant.
Islamic Relief’s work involves providing vocactional training and equipment to vulnerable members of the community, so that they have the skills needed to earn a living. Community members are brought together in groups, where they are given training around agricultural practices such as cow and poultry rearing.
After presenting a business plan, members are then given an initial loan from which they can start a new business, with the idea that they will repay this once their business becomes profitable. The 3 year project is empowering almost 3,000 people to provide for their families and live with dignity, without having to rely on support from others.
61-year-old Fatima from Rangpur lived in deep poverty and struggled with everyday life. Her husband, Abul, worked as a day labourer. He earnt a meagre salary and could not always find work. The couple often could not afford to buy food, and would go to sleep hungry.
Then Abul fell severely ill, and could no longer go out to work. Fatima feared for their future. She eventually found work as a cleaner in order to support herself and her husband. However, struggling with poor health, she was often unable to work and on those days the couple would go without food.
Then, Fatima joined Islamic Relief’s project, and became a member of our support group.
Through the project, Fatima received training on cow rearing. She also received a loan from which she was able to buy a cow and a hen.
With support from her group, Fatima began working as an agricultural day labourer. She earnt enough to support herself and her husband, repay her loan and also save some money.
However, Abul then tragically passed away, leaving Fatima in deep shock and distress. To make matters even worse, her house caught fire shortly afterwards, causing severe damage.
Fatima fell into deep depression, but support from her group members encouraged her to stay hopeful and to fight for a brighter future.
Islamic Relief staff members also provided a grant to Fatima during this most difficult time.
Gradually, Fatima started rebuilding her life. She was given further training around poultry rearing. Her cow gave birth to a calf, and she sells the milk and eggs from her animals at the local market and earns a reliable living.
From the profits, Fatima has also been able to buy 3 goats, as well as repair her house.
Fatima also grows vegetables from seeds provided by Islamic Relief, and is now able to eat a more balanced diet. Fatima’s health and quality of life has greatly improved. She has also grown in confidence and regularly attends meetings at her support group, where she contributes to discussions and offers advice to others.
“ I am now leading a happy life and I strongly feel that I am not alone. 26 group members are also with me. With my earnings, I can support myself with everything I need. I am truly grateful to Islamic Relief Bangladesh”, says Fatima.
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