Community Champions: After Nearly 20 Years Helping Jamalpur District, Gaibandha CSO is Now Promoting
The name Edad Al-Amin Tarun Shangathan, a proactive youth organisation in Jamalpur, was derived from two Arabic words meaning faithful helper. The youth organisation has kept true to its name; it has acted as a reliable helping hand for the people of Gaibandha Union in Jamalpur District since 2001.
Realising that the government’s development endeavours would not reach their village if they did not lobby for themselves, a group of 40 youth from the Purarchar village formed a cooperative fund and established the Emdad Al-Amin Tarun Shangathan.
The youth group’s first agenda was to ensure the construction of a bridge and several roads in their Union. Jamalpur is fertile with silt from the Brahmaputra River, but it lacked the proper infrastructure to support an agriculture-based economy. Two decades later, the villages in the Union are regularly yielding far beyond the expectations of agriculture officials, and locals are seeing their lives change for the better. “All this change did not come in one day,” said Nazmul Hasan, leader of the Emdad Al-Amin Tarun Shangathan.
As their lobbying efforts brought substantial change to the Union, the youth organisation shifted their priorities to other projects and worked intensively with the government’s Social Development Foundation (SDF) to alleviate poverty in their Union. Since then, the organisation has been at the forefront of installing hygienic sanitation systems, supporting public health education in Gaibandha Union, and supporting relief programmes during floods.
The youth group has also transformed itself gradually into a financial assistance organisation for poor households and helped many villagers build concrete homes in flood prone areas. “We provide loans for micro-entrepreneurs and our repayment policies are very accessible. The villagers know what we have done for the community, so we’re very well known here,” added Hasan while talking about the organisation’s efforts to bring about change at the micro-level.
As a strategic partner with Platforms for Dialogue, an EU-funded project implemented by the British Council in partnership with the Cabinet Division, Emdad Al Amin Tarun Shangathan has used its good reputation in the community and experience to promote the government’s good governance policies. With P4D, the CSO is tackling issues like drug addiction, quality of education, and the Right to Information policy tool as part of P4D’s Social Action Projects (SAPs).
Some volunteers working on SAPs under P4D say it was an amazing learning experience for the whole team.
“We didn’t know about the tools to make government officials accountable for their actions. Now we have handed over these tools to the people, and it is making a difference,”
added Md Nazmul Ferdous, during a story about local resident Md Saddam Hossain, who was able to save his business from land grabbers by using the RTI tool that he learned about at one of the SAP meetings.
Local resident Saddam added,
“If I did not know how to use the RTI tool, those land grabbers would have taken all my land. Upon filing an RTI application, I knew that their claims of government order were false.”
Saddam is just one of many who have been empowered by these educational campaigns on social accountability tools. Members of Emdad-Al-Amin Tarun Sangathan hope they can continue to help people. “We are more experienced now since we have worked with P4D. Like our name suggests, we will continue to be the helping hand that we are,” said Nazmul Hasan Ferdous with a smile on his face.
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Platforms for Dialogue and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.