|The Village Millionaire|
Villages find out about BRAC's HRLS because "barefoot lawyers" travel from village to village and teach these communities the seven basic law systems which include Bangladesh's Constitutional law, Hindu law, Muslim law, local laws, and more. The lawyers teach a 22-day course. This way, through word of mouth, villagers can learn more about their rights so that when the police do not do their jobs, they can rely on the unbiased, free legal services from BRAC.
To lighten the mood, we next visited a BRAC School, which was incredibly exhilarating. The classrooms are brightly decorated and the kids are extremely well-behaved, organized and sharp. A mix between a willing student body and a well-respected teacher make for a dynamic, high-quality learning atmosphere. When we first walked in and got situated, the five group leaders of the class stood
up, introduced themselves in English, then introduced each member of their group in English. At the end of each introduction, the leader would hand the floor to the group leader to their left. After this, the students all stood up and played a game where they clapped in rhythm, said a chant in unison, then one would name a country. Then they repeated the chant and the next student named a different country. All forty students in the classroom named a different country of the world. I think their geography skills surpassed those of eight to ten year olds in many other countries. Finally, we watched four girls perform a dance together while the class sang. I enjoyed watching how much fun the kids had learning and expressing themselves. One of the male students aspired to become a doctor while one of his female classmates hoped to become a pilot.
Finally, our last stop of the day was at the Manikganj Regional Office which also houses AAF, the creators of all the glorious fabrics in Aarong Handicrafts. AAF serves as a small-scale manufacturer with hundreds of workers that dye, stitch, and paint fabrics to make clothing, curtains, and accessories. Seeing people physically embroidering, painting over stencils, tie-dying intricate patterns, and stamping prints on the fabrics convinced me that the clothes I bought from Aarong last weekend are top notch quality. When I told one of the women I bought my top from Aarong, the woman responded (according to a Bangladeshi intern's translation) that she was working on re-creating that top in the upstairs tailoring rooms.
Although I completely sweat through all the clothes I wore today, I cannot believe how much I learned and how much fun I had. My favorite picture of the day, both for its comic relief and greater meaning, is shown below. A father drives his kids to school, letting his daughter take the steering wheel. With his help, he allows his daughter to control her future, navigate her life, and look awesome in the process. In every visit we made today, we saw the overwhelming empowerment of women, and it couldn't have made me happier. Men and women collaborating to reach divorce settlements, men and women double teaming the paint job for a yard of fabric, boys and girls singing songs together at school, and men supporting their wives in launching small businesses with microfinance loans. Of the development work BRAC has done, the empowerment of women is both noteworthy and essential.
|I could not stop laughing when I saw this family. I found|
this mode of transportation so endearing.
Secondly, the image screams "Girl Power!"