Updated: Aug 7
“We raised awareness among people about what services they could expect at the clinic. We installed a huge billboard with the citizen’s charter at the community clinic for everyone to see.”
Nabarun Sangha, a longstanding Civil Society Organisation (CSO) in Bagerhat’s Kachua Upazila, was established in 1978 to empower the people of Gopalpur through knowledge. The main focus of the CSO has always been youth development, with an emphasis on education by providing a forum to continue learning outside of school. For decades, Nabarun Sangha has honoured their commitment to learning and spreading knowledge by running a rich library and arranging cultural and educational events for community members.
After collaborating with Platforms for Dialogue (P4D), a European Union-funded project implemented by the British Council and in partnership with the Cabinet Division, Nabarun Sangha started working on issues that complimented their work. The CSO focused its efforts on implementing four social action projects (SAPs) covering the citizen’s charter, reducing drug addiction, stopping early marriage and improving access to information.
Among these, the one on early marriage had an immediate impact and left a long-lasting impact on the societal scenario of Gopalpur. SAP leader Shubhrodeb Mondol with his volunteers managed to put the brakes on early marriage in their community.
“After the group meetings and the courtyard meetings, we did a survey to identify young girls aged between 13 and 18. In the three wards under our SAP, we listed 70 girls who were in this age group. While we were doing other work and raising awareness, our volunteers watched out for them,” says Shubhrodeb.
“At the end of our project, we did another survey of those girls and discovered that none of them had been married off. This was a huge success.”
Paik says, “The father of a 16-year-old girl came to me to seek permission to marry his daughter off. I told him ‘no’ straightaway. Uttam Halder had fixed the wedding of his daughter Priya. But I talked him out of it. Besides, my example is there for all to see. They were my students and they know that both of my daughters are well-educated and now live abroad. Uttam finally understood and pledged not to marry his daughter off before she turned 18.”
Shubhrodeb adds that their hard work has already paid dividends. “We organized six group meetings, three courtyard meetings, two rallies, three meetings with local elites, two meetings with UP body and more.”
SAP leader Nandita Rani worked on drug addiction. “It was hard work. At first, relatives of the addicts did not want to reveal that a member of their family is addicted. However, with patience and persuasion, we managed to turn half of the addicts away from drugs.”
Razia Khatun addressed the unavailability of citizen’s charter at the local community clinics. “We raised awareness among people about what services they could expect at the clinic. We installed a huge billboard with the citizen’s charter at the community clinic for everyone to see.”
Samir Baran Paik thanks the P4D project for the opportunity to learn new things through crucial social development that would benefit the people. “Before P4D, I didn’t even know what RTI or GRS was, what national integrity strategy was or what a citizen’s charter does. But I do and what are more people know how to use them for better governance.”
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.