By Akram Ali
Like thousands of other families, Rashida begum (30) along with her family of four was struggling to meet the ends need in salinity prone areas of Southern Bangladesh. The only thing they got around is salty water which they thought it is useless to produce anything unless Shomoshti project of CARE Bangladesh started the initiative with an intension to change the lives of Bazuagar community where Rashida lives.
Rashida is from a very remote community of Kaliganj Upazilla under Dhalbaria Union , Shatkhira. Her husband was a poor carpenter and they had a son (6) and a daughter (9). With the limited income it was really difficult for them to properly feed and clothe the family. The only asset they had was a pond filled with salty water. It was all darkness until Shomoshti project started its operation in her area and started to train farmers to use the salty water to produce and fattening crab. Rashida found hope and she along with her husband joins the project organized farmers groups and soon she learns the technique of crab fattening.
After the training she buys crablets and starts crab fattening in her pond. Few months later the crablets grows up and with the help of Shomoshti project she contacts with local wholesaler and sells her first lot of crabs for 6000 taka which she could only dream of in the past. She was amazed to see how a useless thing can be a main means of income as she describes, “I had no idea that I can grow crab in my salty pond and now that I know how to do it I will take this as my main occupation.” Seeing her success, women from her community comes to her for advice on crab fattening. Nurnahar Begum (36), another farmer in her community describes, “Rashida’s move was an eye opener for us. We never thought that crab fattening could be this beneficial! I will always remain in debt to Rashida”
Rashida is now seen as a role model in her community. After undergoing through distress for most of her life, she was able to return herself to a dignified life through the help of Shomoshti project. She looks to build off her success and wants to accomplish even bigger vision in the future.
The writer is Coordinator of Communications and Knowledge Management for Extreme Rural Poverty Program (ERPP), CARE Bangladesh.