Awasbalia union of Noakhali district is now an example of unified voice for community development initiatives. But the scenario was not the same even before a year ago. The main livelihood opportunities are agriculture and fishing for the most of the people. They hardly can think of other livelihoods beyond these two options to manage the regular life. They could not even think of any other alternatives to change their existing standard of life or to take initiative for the betterment of their life.
Sakhina Khatun, age 55, living in West Awasbalia used to live with great misery when she was not involved in Union Development Committee. She is a widow not having any children or anyone to take care of her. With a very hardship she used to manage to work in agricultural land as day labor and earned taka 40 per day which is very small amount against her demand. The hardship turns to worsen day by day, Even she needed to starve when no work available. In this condition, she learnt about NSA project and got interested; with a little hope joined in Unit Development Committee (UDC) and elected as general secretary. Then she started to join in the meeting regularly that also developed her awareness of the rights and government services. It was a new learning for her to know about their socio economic condition that analyzed through pot analysis. She also learnt about various services of government for marginalized people and the way to approach their rights through training and discussion. The discussion made her capable to support the community people to have access in government safety net programme.
Sakhina started experiencing a new life after joining at UDC. Knowing her condition, UDC lobbies with UP chairman to enlist her name for widow allowance (Social Safety Net Programme of Government). Accordingly, she got card and for the allowance of 300 tk monthly which relieved her from starving. In the last year she enlisted for another social safety net programme which was possible for constant lobbying of UDC with UP chairman. “I have also started working in 40 days employment programme after joining UDC. I didn‟t have the opportunity before” – she added. She made an amount of 5,075 after working 29 days. She said, „With my income, I repaid my loan, bought food and other necessary things for home .‟ But she thought of permanent source of income. Linkage with agriculture office made her trained for poultry and homestead gardening. After receiving training, she was confident to do something in own initiative and then started homestead gardening and selling in the local market. From selling vegetables she is now earning tk 200 – 400 per month. Local private clinic also hired her as a trained midwife. She has been serving for ensuring safe delivery for the community women. It has also been added an amount of 200 tk monthly with her monthly income. Now Sakhina can think to help other people or taking such initiatives. She realized marginalized people, like her, need to know this information to claim and get their rights. Her support also extended to receive the widow allowance and allocated medicine in government hospital As a participant of Union Development committee, she also takes part in the decision making process of any community development initiatives. Now confidence reflected through her voice “One can change his / her life if get any assistance.” She got it through UDC and now she is showing the way of hope to others and changes her position in the society.