By Mamun Islam
RANGPUR, March 5, 2020 (BSS) – Sekendar Ali, 50, a van-cart puller, has changed fortune with assistance of the “Ekti Bari, Ekti Khamar (EBEK)” project, now renamed as “Amar Bari Amar Khamar (ABAK)” project, in the last eight years.
Earlier, extreme poverty forced him to lead a miserable life in remote village Dakshin Moksedpur Dangapara of Badarganj upazila in the district.
With his daily earnings of Taka 200 from pulling van-cart, he hardly managed foods for his wife Majeda Begum, 45, sons Mamunur Rashid, 24, and Mizanur Rahman, 21, and daughter Musfika Naznin, 12.
While narrating his success story to BSS, Sekendar said he fortunately attended a meeting at local Ramnathpur union parishad premises in 2012 where an official discussed the EBEK project.
He enlisted him as a member of the 60-member ‘Baniapara Brittipara Sarbik Gram Unnayan Samity’ formed there as a Village Development Samity (VDS) with extremely poor 20 male and 40 female members.
“Like every member, I deposited Taka 200 per month that generated a fund of Taka 2.88-lakh of the VDS in two years,” said Sekendar, also Manager of the 11-member executive committee of the Samity.
The government provided Taka 2.88-lakh as welfare grant and Taka 3-lakh as revolving loan to the Samity, raising its fund to 8.76-lakh.
“The total capital of our VDS rose to Taka 9-lakh in two years with the addition of a portion of eight percent service charge realized from its members during transaction of revolving loans,” Sekendar added.
He got the first loan of Taka 10,000 from the VDS and skill development training on income generating activities (IGAs) in 2013.
He purchased a Black Bengal goat that continues giving birth to two cubs in every six to eight months.
“After repayment of the loan in a year, I got Taka 20,000 in 2014 when I bought a heifer and sold that at Taka 35,000 after eight months and again got Taka 30,000 loan in 2015,” he said.
And thus, Sekendar won extreme poverty by 2016 and switched over to Palli Sanchay Bank (PSB) in 2018 when he got Taka 50,000 as small and medium enterprise (SME) loan at only five percent service charge.
He took lease of 21 decimals of land to cultivate Napier grass for feeding his cows and goats and converted his paddle-driven van-cart into a battery-run one to earn Taka 500 daily from pulling it now.
“I again got Taka 70,000 SME loan in 2019 when I built a cow-shed, a goat-shed and sheds for chickens and turned my thatched house into a tin-shed one,” he said.
Now, Sekendar has 12 goats, two cows, 10 black-coloured ‘Kadaknath’ hens, 30 local variety chickens, fruit giving trees of mango, coconut, ‘Amra’ Malta and blackberries at his house-cum-farm.
Besides, he has modern furniture, kitchen, sanitary latrine, tube-well and other facilities at home with his total assets worth Taka 5-lakh now.
His elder son Mamunur is final-year masters’ student (Political Science) and younger son Mizanur a third-year honours (Islamic History) student and daughter Musfika studies in class six.
Field Supervisor of the ABAK project Mukta Banu said Sekendar’s success has become a milestone reflecting the visualization of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on way to attain sustainable development goals by 2030.
District Coordinator of the ABAK project and PBS Jahadul Islam Jahid said, like Sekendar Ali, the ABAK project is currently benefiting 96,089 members of 2,052 VDSs across the district.