SMS Bangladesh in Denmark is an association whose purpose is to support schools and other activities in northern Bangladesh, where the three schools are: Birganj, Pirganj and Patnitola. We do this, for example, by collecting money, as for 92% they go directly to Bangladesh. In addition, we help send volunteers to schools, and we discuss the development of schools and other projects with the people of Bangladesh. But the schools are not the property of the Danish support society, and the social projects must be rooted in the Bengali organization. SMS in Bangladesh and the support organization in Denmark are, in other words, partners that together get the good things to happen.
The Partnership Conference is under way in Birganj. The director of the projects in Bangladesh, Someone Bormon, talks, and the Danish participants and the consultant listen.
The Support Association has long wanted to help SMS in Bangladesh to lift the skills, both at the teachers and at the management, ie. local school inspectors and project director Nogen Bormon and his small administration. For this we will seek a larger sum of money from the Danish development program (DANIDA) for a development of the organization in Bangladesh. In order to apply for money from the pool, we must show that our cooperation is solid, so the first step is that the partners hold a local conference in which they agree on a development plan and on the goals of the cooperation.Such a partnership conference we held in March 2015 in Birganj.

The partnership was extended to include the organization that sends volunteers to us, VIVA-Denmark. VIVA sends volunteers to volunteer work, but they work mostly in Central America, so by attending our conference, VIVA employees could both see the local conditions they send young people and they could help draw a plan for future development.

The Danish participants in the Partnership Conference were therefore two representatives of the Support Association (Christian Alnor and Filip Engsig-Karup), the two most recent volunteers (Anne Cathrine Lykkegaard Pedersen and Gitte Hjul Andersen) and 2 representatives from VIVA (Arne Kristensen and Sara Fischer-Nielsen)

The delegation visited Pirganj, where the students in this class had prepared and greeted WELCOME signatures.
In Bangladesh, the delegation met with representatives from all 3 schools, we visited 2 of the schools and we visited both the tailor project (GIRLS) and the handicap project. In addition, a consultant from Dhaka, Mr.Mohammad Shamsuddoha. His task was to gather all the contributions from the meetings and draw up a strategic plan in the light of what we agreed.

At the schools we spoke with the teachers, the local inspector, parents and board representatives. We could tell them how impressed we are about the work they can deliver in the framework available. It is clear that the teachers are proud of their school, but also that they think it is a challenge that there are so few resources available.The buildings should be better, equipped more modern – and not least, they want the salary to be paid on a regular basis. All 3 places are a big wish to have a small playground for the school so that the children can unfold physically during the breaks.

During the mango tree in the  schoolyard in Birganj.
An important element of the Bangladesh organization’s development plan is to make schools more independent of Denmark’s support. There simply has to be a greater correlation between the income the school receives through the students ‘payment and the current expenses the school has for teachers’ salaries and other items. The task of the support group should be to finance larger investments such as land acquisition, building solid school buildings and developing the skills of teachers and managers.
We formulated 6 bearing values ​​for the schools’ work:

  • We care for every child equally but weaker ones especially
  • Effective and efficient teachers trained with extra English
  • We help pupils to prepare everyday lessons
  • Regular interaction with foreign volunteers
  • Growing the full potentials of the child in a joyful learning environment
  • This school is not for profit – it is for the development of the cities and Bangladesh

The schools have a major task of making themselves more visible in the local area. It is our common belief that these 6 values ​​differ significantly from our other schools, consisting of local elementary schools (with up to 80 students in class) and Islamic private schools. And that the “second” that the students receive at the SMS schools has sufficiently high value for the local families to make school money a good investment in their children’s (and family) future. We also hope that the development of teachers’ skills can help parents not report their children after grade 3 to send them to a local school where they are trained for the 5th grade exam to give access to next step in the school system.

A young girl tells how tailor training has meant that she was able to work at a garment factory in Dhaka.Now she can send money home to the family every month. It’s getting married for a couple of years, she thinks.
It is also an investment in the young girls’ future when they receive a 6-month tailor-made training in the GIRLS project. The girls themselves must have saved up to pay half of the sewing machine they end up getting home when the course is finished, but the tuition is free.When we met about 30 out of the 40 girls who have been educated through the last 4 years, we heard more examples of the young girls becoming more self-sufficient. One girl told her that the education had given her a job at a Dhaka factory, from which she sends money home to the family every month.Another told how her bride’s family had accepted a tax which was only half as large as usual.Now she could contribute to the family’s economy by making money on sewing for the neighbors.

We also saw an example of how the disability project had helped people to a greater degree of self-sufficiency. A young man who was lamb in both legs had a bicycle wagon, where he used his hands to drive the pedals around. Now he can transport himself to the little kiosk he has stacked on his legs and gives him a boost. His dream is to be motorized and move his kiosk closer to the main road. Another place we visited a family with a disabled boy, where the help consists of teaching the family to relieve his pain through massage, and not least to teach them to accept him as a member of the family and not as one who is obsessed with a evil spirit.

This three-wheeled bike is not flashy, but it means that the young man himself can move from his home to his little kiosk by the road. He has become more independent of the help of others.
Following the Partnership Conference, it is now very good to build on and the feeling of being in harmony with the desire to make a difference in North-West Bangladesh has strengthened the partners. So now it’s just getting your work gloves on!

Author: Leon Kumar Roy

Leon Kumar Roy Address : Dinajpur, Rangpur, Bangladesh Telephone +8801737937045 Mail: leonkumarroy@hotmail.com

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