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A day with a
poverty fighter -
Topoti Rani Roy


I live four hours from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city.

You will know you’re getting close to my home when the cars turn into rickshaw vans.

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Wind powers our lights.

Almost everyone here owns their own business.

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My house is next to the BRAC Bagbati branch office.


My morning has just started. I am the first to wake up in our house.

My name is Topoti Rani Roy. You can call me Topoti Di. I’m a Programme Organiser in BRAC’s Ultra Poor Graduation Programme.

I start the day with making fuel for everyone - the food everyone will eat for the rest of the day.

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I have fresh fruit sitting by their beds before the morning light comes through the window.


I tidy the house and get my children up. I have two children - Sreya and Anik. Sreya is 5 years old and had to stop schooling when COVID-19 hit.

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Anik is 16 and studies in Grade 10. He has a tutor who comes to help him for an hour before he goes to school. I’ll make some snacks for them before I head off to work.


I drop Sreya off to the house next door, for my neighbour to look after her.


Sometimes I don’t have the time to dry my hair after showering. I have a system, but sometimes things fall through. Today’s one of those days.

I grab my tab and my phone. I can’t reach my participants without them.

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My motorbike is waiting for me. First off, a group visit.


It’s 8:15. It takes 20 minutes to reach my first stop.


I get off my motorbike, because there’s only enough space to walk the rest of the way. I am greeted with Salaams and smiling faces.

I sit down and ask everyone about how they are. These women have just started the journey of overcoming poverty. We started working with them a few months ago.


I run the session in phases. Firstly, we check on everyone’s wellbeing. Then, we discuss a specific topic. Today it was maternal health.


I end the sessions by assessing everyone’s loan instalments. The group is almost halfway through repaying their initial loans.


We have a guest in our meeting. I don’t think he'll be paying any instalments today.


Next, I head off to a home visit.

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Shapla, which means lotus in Bangla, has just joined the programme. I saw some chilli plants in a nursery in town on the way here and thought she could use some. I’m going to give them to her.


We talk about how she is doing. Her new cow sniffs my tab.

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She was fixing her tubewell, so I gave her advice on how to make long-term repairs. We also talked about how to ensure the cow was protected when it rained, and ensure her chickens have enough space.


Shapla plants her new chilli plant in a small corner. People in the programme often support each other with plants and other resources, and I like to be involved too.


I visit ten other homes around Bagbati, on foot and on the bike, and then ride to the office.

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I work with a team of five, but I feel like I am part of a big family.

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We report to the manager about our day and hand over any loan instalments we’ve received. It’s been hot today, so it's nice to cool off under the fan.


I head home through the village. My most important stakeholder has been waiting all day to see me.

I cook, clean and play with Sreya, and then with Anik when he arrives home.

I’ve been with BRAC for 20 years, and I hope to be here for the next 20 as well.

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