She lives in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh, where World Renew and its partner, SAHTI, have helped to establish community organizations called “People’s Institutions.” Beauty’s institution is called “Akota,” or Unity.
Beauty illustrated through painting the work of the People’s Institutions that bless the lives of over 22,000 people who live in these slums. She told a dramatic story of Before and After.
- Before, flies used to sit on our food and filth surrounded our homes. Mothers and children were always sick. Now, things are much cleaner because we work together to put the hygiene teaching we have received into practice, picking up trash and cleaning up the feces of children. Now, young mothers and children are free from diarrhea and jaundice.
- Before, there was general ignorance about nutrition and much more malnutrition. Now, the People’s Institution has many self-help mothers’ groups with their own trained community health workers. Now, community health workers sing a song to teach mothers how to feed their children from birth to age 2.
- Before, many girls were married off as child brides in their early teens, and husbands and mothers-in-law did not allow births in hospitals. Pregnant mothers were told to work hard to ensure that the baby would be small so that birth would be easier. Now, child marriage has reduced greatly, hospital births are the norm, volunteer community health workers coach mothers on good nutrition, and husbands have learned to encourage their pregnant wives to rest.
- Before, men used to make all the important decisions and frequently divorced and abandoned their wives by simple verbal declaration. When girl babies were born, mothers-in-law often blamed the young wives, encouraging their sons to divorce. Before, education was only for boys. Now, husbands and wives share decision making, more couples agree to use birth control methods, and both boys and girls go to school. Last year, over 1000 adults learned basic reading and numeracy in the literacy program.
- Before, the poor were the targets of exploitative money lenders and women had almost no economic independence. Now, there are many savings groups that have several thousand dollars of their own savings circulating in loans to their members, with the interest from these loans steadily increasing the lending pool. Each member has their own saving passbook and some members now even have saving accounts at commercial banks. Women feel so much more confident — many even have their own cell phones!
- Before, angry slum residents would utter attacks against neighbors without anyone opposing them. Now, we have learned that it is our duty to speak up to defend the person being attacked and we have a Peace Committee to resolve disputes. Now, we emphasize community benefit instead of individual benefit.
- Before, there was no teaching for teenagers. Now, our adolescent girls and boys learn about puberty physical hygiene, and good values. Our People’s Institutions have adolescent representatives.
Beauty completes her painting with a flower. The flower symbolizes the dream of human lives blossoming into fullness, a fullness where women who have worked in garment factories will have their own sewing businesses, the People’s Institution will have its own vehicle, more children will gain higher education in good schools, and there will be peace.
Is this a ministry you feel called to support?
Ministry Team Leader
World Renew Asia