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From farm to the local market

The Covid-19 pandemic left Rupali scraping for sources of income to provide for her family, but she managed to transform a small cash grant into a flourishing family business.

Rupali Hemram lives in a small rural community called Godagari, just over 30 kilometers away from the city of Rajshahi – one of Bangladesh’s largest commercial and urban centers.

With a household that includes two children, a husband and a mother in law, meeting and managing daily expenses is a juggling act that has become harder and harder in recent times.

Like many low-income families around the world who have felt the socioeconomic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rupali’s family has struggled through countless challenges that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

To help reduce the risk that families such as Rupali’s will sink further into poverty, or develop negative coping strategies, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) has supported 500 households with 2,500 Taka (a bit over USD 25) to help them buy food, invest in other livelihoods and develop other sources of income.

“The money I received was a great help” said Rupali with great relief. “I invested in livestock. I am rearing ducks and hens. I sell eggs to my neighbors and sell ducks in the local market. With this money, I am able to contribute to my family. My daughter also started going to school again.”

With the cash received by BDRCS, Rupali has not only diversified her family income, she also helps the income-generating activities of her husband, Shawpon Beshra, who is also a farmer. With only his earnings through seasonal work, it had been almost impossible to provide for their five-member family.

These livelihoods have allowed her to look forward to a better future for her children.

In her beautiful yellow saree, Rupali walks back home with fresh produce from the local market, something she could not do very often at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In rural Bangladesh, many families are facing the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic. Rupali and her five-member family were no exception, since they found themselves struggling to meet their daily needs.

A small boost of 2,500 Taka (approx USD 25) helped Rupali invest in chickens, hens, ducks and other livelihoods that she keeps in her backyard. These new activities often involve a helping hand of her children. Thanks to her persistence and hard work, her produce is now very popular in Godagari’s local market.

Once Rupali was unable to provide food for her family. Finally those days of starvation have come to an end. In the photo above, Rupali cooks a delicious meal for her children. She likes to ensure that their everyday meals are nutritious and healthy.

When the family was struggling to meet their daily basic needs, buying even a simple cookie was a luxury for Rupali. Now that things are improving, Rupali likes to treat her kids with delicious snacks. She takes time during the day to feed her son with one of his favorite snacks.

Helping Anamika, her daughter, with her homework, Rupali reflects on the unfortunate reality of women from the community, who constantly get left behind when it comes to education. Rupali wants to change this for Anamika and provide her learning opportunities. While many of the girls from their community get married early, Rupali believes that through education and hard work, her daughter can take a different path in life.

Sharing her mother’s dream and ambition, Anamika studies and goes to school regularly. Thanks to the cash grant received from the BDRCS, her family’s economic condition has improved significantly, allowing her to invest time in her studies.

“Every time someone visits from the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, I see them as family. I show them my cattle, ducks and hens. My life has changed, and I am thankful for the cash grant I received,” says Rupali Hemram during a home visit from a BDRCS volunteer.

Her new livelihoods and business have impacted all the members of Rupali’s family.  Shawpon Beshra, her husband, is a farmer and due to his seasonal work, it was sometimes very difficult for the family to make ends meet while he was away. Now, Shawpon Beshra is also very active with their business. He often helps Rupali to sell items in Godagari’s local market.

Even with more work on her plate, Rupali enjoys spending her leisure time with her children and members of her extended family. Because of her hard work, she is confident about the future of her family, and she feels at peace with the life and the business they are now building together.

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This story was produced and drafted by Sadia Saba Orchi
– a creative and highly engaged storyteller from Bangladesh Red Crescent.

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