Projects - Eco-Village in Natore

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Location of Natore District in Northwest Bangladesh (marked in Red)

Location of Natore District in Northwest Bangladesh (marked in Red)

The project area is within the small villages of Baro & Choto Hatiandha of Shingra Thana, Nator District. The total population of the area is 5,723 out of which there are 3,064 women. The rate of adult women’s literacy in the area was extremely low (only approximately 12%) when we started. Most of the inhabitants of this area are agricultural laborers.

TRAINING

The program’s core component is an eight-month adult literacy program. Approximately 700 adults (mostly women) have participated to date. Literacy classes are followed by training on income generating activities, including sapling production, vegetable cultivation, candle making, sewing, and computer skills. Samhati has opened a small shop to sell these products. The participants are also learning about natural resources management, including generation of organic bio fertilizer, seed preservation and marketing, renewable energy, and waste management and recycling. Samhati has provided 1,500 sapling trees, which project members planted in the community.

We have adult literacy classes in three different villages, and over 700 adults (mostly women)
have learned to read. At our Computer Learning Center, we now have five desktop and 2 laptop computers, and the three-month training is very popular and leads to employment for many of the graduates. Every year, we have 75 women in the sewing classes, and several graduates have been provided sewing machines (on monthly payment plan) to start their own businesses. A cooperative has been formed with 10 women, who are learning fish farming and production of organic fertilizer.

In 2016, we started an exciting new program, granting bicycles to girls to help them get to school. Girls rarely bike in Bangladesh, so this bold initiative allows girls to be less confined and more mobile. The bicycle program is a very effective tool to empower girls and discourage early marriage.

RESOURCE CENTER

Our project features a Resource Center for the community, which includes a library and computer and internet services. The Resource Center shows educational films twice a week. The project participants are publishing a quarterly magazine with news, information, and creative writing from community members. To emphasize literacy, reading groups have been started and a mobile library makes home delivery of books and newspapers.

SCHOLARSHIPS

In Natore, we are also providing scholarships to 30 students (majority girls), who are chosen by a committee based on merit and need. We are providing approximately $75 per student annually to fund these scholarships. Just this small amount ensures that these young people receive clothing, books, shoes, and other supplies so that they can stay enrolled in school. In 2018, one young woman graduate from our high school program will be selected for a college scholarship under our new Jahanara Ali Memorial Scholarship program.

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