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20 June 2008, Dhaka. “The future of Bangladesh is very bright if everybody is getting the education [BRAC school students] are getting!”

UK Minister for International Development, Shahid Malik, visited a BRAC primary school located in the Korail slum area of Dhaka city on Thursday, as part of a three-day tour to Bangladesh. The minister spent time talking and interacting with the students and also enjoyed a lively song and dance performance by them.

Following the visit, the minister expressed his appreciation of BRAC’s education programme. “The future of Bangladesh is very bright if everybody is getting the education that these children are getting,” he said. “And the good thing is that over 93% of children who go to BRAC schools end up going into the state sector, so it’s a really positive initiative,” he also added. The Minister expressed his strong belief that if the Government of Bangladesh continues to work closely with civil society organizations such as BRAC in the education sector, Bangladesh would be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in education.

During his visit to the school, the Minister was accompanied by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) South Asian Division Director Jim Drummond and senior officials from DFID Bangladesh. BRAC Deputy Executive Director Aminul Alam and Education Programme Director Safiqul Islam were also present.

The Korail North primary school which the Minister visited is one of 11 BRAC primary schools in Korail, providing BRAC’s groundbreaking non-formal primary education services to nearly 400 underprivileged children living in the slum. In addition to primary schools, BRAC Education’s Adolescent Development Programme also runs an adolescent centre in Korail. Over 37,500 non-formal primary and 24,000 pre-primary BRAC schools provide education to nearly 2 million children across the country.

Shahid Malik is the UK Member of Parliament for Dewsbury, West Yorkshire and was elected in May 2005. Within a year, he was appointed to the influential Home Affairs Select Committee and served as a PPS to Schools Minister Jim Knight. In 2007 he was appointed Minister for International Development in Gordon Brown's first government.

30 June 2008, Dhaka. The European Commission (EC) will provide a grant of 13 million euros to Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (Brac) in support of sustainable recovery and rehabilitation of agriculture-based and non-agriculture-based livelihood in cyclone Sidr-affected coastal areas.

The delegation of the European Commission to Bangladesh signed a grant agreement with BRAC to this effect yesterday, said an EC press release.

Brac Executive Director Mahabub Hossain and Dr Stefan Frowein, Ambassador of Head of delegation of the delegation of the European Commission signed the contract.

This action will help to link the relief phase, for which ECHO already provided 20.425 million euro with the longer term reconstruction and development of the affected areas.

This new EC support under the instrument for stability will provide much needed interventions to boost rehabilitation of agriculture-based and non-agriculture-based, livelihoods in severely cyclone Sidr affected areas of Bangladesh.

The action is designed to build upon previous and ongoing ECHO emergency intervention and link with ongoing DIPECHO disaster preparedness activities and the longer term EC development support for disaster risk reduction and food security.

A Joint Damage Loss and Needs Assessment, financed through the instrument for Stability, estimated the total amount of damage and losses caused by the cyclone at over 1.1 billion euro, equivalent to 2.8 percent of Bangladesh's GDP. More than two-thirds of this was physical damage and one-third economic loss.

Ambassador Frowein stated, "This additional support from the European Commission underlines the solidarity which the European Union has expressed with the government and the people of Bangladesh in the wake of this terrible natural disaster."
 
Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Commission Dr Stefan Erowein, second from left, and Executive Director of Brac Dr Mahabub Hossain shake hands at a ceremony in the city yesterday after signing a deal worth 13 million euros to support the sustainable recovery and rehabilitation of agro-based and non-agro-based livelihoods in Sidr-hit coastal areas

Friday, 01 August 2008 18:00

Rahul Gandhi visits BRAC pogrammes

02 August 2008, Dhaka. Visiting Indian politician and member of the Indian Parliament Rahul Gandhi, along with his 8-member delegation, visited several BRAC programmes in Gazipur district on Saturday. He was accompanied by BRAC Executive Director Dr Mahabub Hossain and other senior officials.

Gandhi began his day by visiting a microfinance group in Lahuri village of Kapasia sub-district and observed microfinance activities. He enquired about the range of loan sizes, how they are used by the women and the means of repayment. He interacted with the women and enquired about their economic condition after obtaining loans from BRAC. He learnt about various other income generating activities by the borrowers and paid a visit to a borrower’s household to see her cattle-rearing enterprise.

He then visited a BRAC pre-primary as well as a BRAC primary school. He observed classes in progress and watched the students engage in various extra-curricular activities. He also visited a BRAC community library and a BRAC Kishori Kendra (Adolescent Development Centre).

Gandhi then visited BRAC health programmes in Kapasia sadar and discussed health issues with BRAC Shastho Shebikas (health volunteers). He observed first-hand the role played by BRAC health volunteers in providing health education and treating basic ailments. He also visited an Ante-Natal Clinic conducted for pregnant women.

In the afternoon, Gandhi saw a BRAC’s human rights classes for rural women in progress. He also visited a BRAC training centre.

On his return to Dhaka, Gandhi and his team sat for exclusive talks with BRAC chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed for an hour and a half at the BRAC Centre. He was later expected to attend a dinner hosted in his honour by the BRAC chairperson.

21 August 2008, Dhaka. BRAC Human Rights and Legal Aid Services Program (HRLS) together with the Center for Reproductive Rights (the Center), New York, is organizing a workshop themed ‘Reproductive Health, Litigation and Human Rights’ in Dhaka on August 28th 2008, at the BRAC Center, where activists, health rights advocates and experts in reproductive health and human rights will come together to discuss legal strategies for addressing key reproductive health issues in Bangladesh.

Women’s reproductive health in Bangladesh is a matter of concern for human rights advocates in Bangladesh and around the world. An estimated 12,000 women die annually from pregnancy-related causes, and although there has been a significant increase in contraceptive use since the late seventies, access to family planning services and information is unequal, leading to a higher incidence of adverse reproductive health outcomes among low-income and adolescent women and girls.

BRAC, together with the Centre and other Bangladeshi activists, will discuss legal strategies undertaken in other parts of Asia and Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe such as fact-finding, documentation, litigation and legal advocacy, and how these may serve to address reproductive health issues and to promote access to justice for victims of reproductive rights violations in Bangladesh. This discussion will determine a future course of action for health and reproductive rights in Bangladesh.
 

24 September 2008, Dhaka. We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Allan Rosenfield, Chair of BRAC USA and the former dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Dr. Rosenfield had been suffering for the past three years from diseases which affected his motor nerve functions. He was an icon in the world of public health, one of the most outspoken advocates for women’s health rights and an ardent supporter of BRAC. We are grateful for his unbending dedication to BRAC over the years and particularly to the amount of time and energy he gave to launching BRAC USA, in spite of his deteriorating health.

Dr. Lincoln Chen, BRAC USA board member and friend of Dr. Rosenfield, has paid the following tribute: “While none of us are immortal, and Allan's illness was clearly exacting a toll, he fought and braved the burden with enormous courage. I was amazed at how he kept pushing those of us around him to stay in touch, to keep interacting, to not let his illness slow us down. Indeed, he became even more invigorated while fighting his illness!

All of us owe a huge debt to Allan, for launching BRAC USA and so many other global health endeavors -- from his earliest innovative work in Thailand to his leadership at the Population Council, Columbia University, and in so many international health activities. To the end, Allan remained steadfast in his commitments, never bending to the enormous political pressures on him and his institution to compromise on women's health, human rights, and equity in global health.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rosenfield family.

 

 

27 September 2008, Los Angeles. BRAC, the largest non-profit organisation in the developing world, has been selected to receive the 2008 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize of $1.5 million. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation presents the annual award, the world’s largest humanitarian prize, to an organisation that is significantly alleviating human suffering. The prize will be presented on October 20 in Geneva, Switzerland.

‘BRAC’s approach to creating self-sufficient and sustainable programmes on a massive scale has blazed a trail for development organisations around the world,’ said Steven M. Hilton, President and CEO of the Hilton Foundation. ‘Where most NGOs might tackle one dimension of poverty, BRAC delivers multi-faceted solutions to attack all aspects simultaneously,’ Hilton added.

Launched in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC reaches more than 110 million people with its holistic approach to addressing poverty by providing access to credit for economic development and delivering health services, education, social awareness of legal and human rights and business management and skills training. Now in its 37th year, BRAC has taken its model beyond Bangladesh into eight other Asian and African countries. It has issued $5 billion in micro-loans to nearly seven million borrowers; graduated 3.8 million students from its primary schools and 2.3 million from its pre-primary schools, with 1.5 million children currently enrolled in its 52,000 schools; provided basic health services to more than 90 million; created 8.5 million jobs; and employed 110,000 staff and teachers.

According to Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC’s founder and chairperson, ‘To receive the Hilton Prize is a great honour and tremendous validation of our work. Billions of people in the world today live in extreme poverty, and it is our goal to transition the poor from receiving aid to controlling their own destinies. The Hilton Prize will add to our momentum as we take on greater challenges to unleash the full potential of the poor, especially women, and to realise justice and their full human rights.’

Judy Miller, vice president of the Hilton Foundation and director of the Hilton Prize, said BRAC was one of more than 225 nominees for the 2008 Hilton Prize. She added that the Hilton Prize international jurors were impressed by BRAC’s innovation and the diversity of its programmes, along with its ability to dramatically scale up its work and to expand beyond Bangladesh into other developing countries.

Miller added, ‘BRAC began by targeting poor rural women and recently announced a major initiative to educate girls in Africa and Asia. This is the third year in a row that our Hilton Prize recipient is an NGO that recognises women as the critical agents of change to lift their families and communities from poverty.’

About BRAC

Formerly known as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, BRAC was founded in 1972 by former Shell Oil executive Fazle Hasan Abed, with proceeds from the sale of his London apartment, to help Bangladesh overcome the devastation and trauma of the liberation war that secured its independence from Pakistan. Using micro-finance as its core component, BRAC sets up small village organisations run by 30 to 40 women that provide their communities access to credit for economic development and also deliver health services, education, social awareness of legal and human rights and business management and skills training. Today, BRAC’s programmes reach three quarters of Bangladesh’s population through the efforts of more than 110,000 micro-finance officers, teachers, health staff and enterprise managers. BRAC has helped bring Bangladesh’s immunisation rate from 2 percent to 83 percent and reached 86 million people with its tuberculosis control program. The organisation has been instrumental in lowering Bangladesh’s maternal and infant mortality rates. At a time when half of children’s deaths were caused by diarrhea, BRAC sent women into the countryside to teach 13 million mothers how to prepare an oral rehydration solution.

In recent years, BRAC has expanded its programmes globally. In 2002, the organisation moved into post-Taliban Afghanistan after seeing the haunting images of three million refugees returning to the war-torn country. Starting out with $250,000 of its own funding, BRAC is now the largest micro-finance, health and education provider in the country, operating in 25 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and disbursing over $96 million in small loans. The organisation began working in Sri Lanka in 2004 after the devastating tsunami and has set up 40 offices throughout Pakistan. Over the last two years, BRAC launched programmes in Tanzania, Uganda, Liberia and Southern Sudan in response to reports that Africa is the only continent where the proportion of poor is growing. BRAC plans to operate in 10 African countries by 2010.

About the Hilton Prize
The Hilton Prize is presented each year in conjunction with the annual Hilton Humanitarian Symposium which gathers policymakers and world leaders in the humanitarian field to address critical challenges. This year’s theme is: “The Bottom Billion—Is There a Tipping Point?”

This year’s Hilton Prize jury includes: Princess Salimah Aga Khan, International Ambassador for SOS-Kinderdorf International; Catherine Bertini, former Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme and Senior Fellow in Agricultural Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Gro Harlem Brundtland, M.P.H., former Director General, World Health Organisation and former Prime Minister of Norway; Gregory R. Dillon, Director, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Eric M. Hilton, Director, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and son of Conrad Hilton; Olara A. Otunnu, former UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and former Ugandan Minister for Foreign Affairs; and Professor Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics and Lamont University Professor at Harvard University.

Former Hilton Prize recipients are recognised leaders in the humanitarian world and include: Tostan (Senegal) 2007; Women for Women International (Washington, DC) 2006; Partners in Health (Massachusetts) 2005; Heifer International (Arkansas) 2004; International Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (Denmark) 2003; SOS Children’s Villages (Austria) 2002; St. Christopher’s Hospice (England) 2001; Casa Alianza (Costa Rica) 2000; African Medical and Research Foundation (Kenya) 1999; Doctors Without Borders (France) 1998; International Rescue Committee (New York) 1997; and Operation Smile (Virginia) 1996.

About the Hilton Foundation
Based in Los Angeles, the Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by the late hotel entrepreneur and business leader, Conrad N. Hilton, who left his fortune to the foundation when he died in 1979 with instructions to help the most disadvantaged and vulnerable throughout the world without regard to religion, ethnicity or geography. Barron Hilton, who also led Hilton Hotels Corporation and is current chairman of the foundation, has joined his father in committing to leave the bulk of his wealth to the foundation. The foundation along with its related entities has assets exceeding $4.2 billion and, since its inception, has committed more than $780 million for charitable projects throughout the world.

27 May 2009, Dhaka. The recent cyclone Aila caused massive destruction and devastation in the southern and south-western part of Bangladesh. BRAC, as an immediate response to this calamity has approved Taka 1 (one) crore from its own fund for primary relief activities. BRAC has already started to distribute pure drinking water, water purifying tablets, rice flakes and molasses in the affected region. For coordination and the smooth operation of the relief activities one of the Directors from BRAC Head Office is already working in the cyclone affected areas as well as all BRAC staffs of the affected Upazillas are engaged in these relief activities. Necessary steps to mobilise more funds for the victims are being taken by BRAC. 

destroyed house by cyclone aila destroyed house by cyclone aila
flooded rice fields  flooded rice fields 
flooded home and trees  families gathered for shelter in relief center after losing home 
all drinking water supply system been flooded with salt water  ponds, fields all gone under water 
flood affected people gathered for the relief  houses are been torn apart by the cyclone aila 
even big trees been knock down by cyclone aila  flooded area 
low area flooded with salt water  flooded home and trees 
flooded home and trees  flooded home and fields 
flooded home and fields

 

25 September 2008, Dhaka – Celebrated American banker, statesman and philanthropist and current patriarch of the Rockefeller family, David Rockefeller Sr. presented the 2008 David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award to BRAC Founder and Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed Tuesday evening in New York City, honoring his innovative work to empower the poor. The award was also presented to Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan.

The award was presented at an event titled University for a Night, which is a unique annual gathering of leaders from business, government, civil society and philanthropy, organised by the Synergos Institute. Prior to receiving the prize, Mr. Abed took part in a plenary discussion with Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai. From Wednesday to Friday, Mr. Abed will also be participating in the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual meeting hosted by former US President Bill Clinton.

 

All photos courtesy of Christine A Butler/Synergos 

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Saturday, 25 October 2008 18:00

Two BRAC Staff Abducted in Afghanistan

25 October 2008, Dhaka. Two BRAC staff members, Akhter Ali and Mohammad Shahjahan Ali, were kidnapped last Thursday, 23 October, from the Ghazni province of Afghanistan, where they have both been working as BRAC Afghanistan Area Managers for the last three years. The BRAC Afghanistan authorities in Kabul have confirmed the following details of the incident: Akhter and Shahjahan were abducted at gunpoint by four men from BRAC Afghanistan’s Moi Mobarok branch office in the provincial capital, Ghazni City, where they had travelled as part of their regular office visit schedule. During the attack, the manager of the branch office, Hasmatullah, an Afghani national, was also severely beaten. The identities of the attackers are yet to be confirmed.

In immediate response, BRAC Afghanistan authorities contacted the Afghani Minister of Interior, Hanif Atmar, Thursday night to inform him of the incident. Mr. Atmar assured BRAC that the Afghan authorities would provide all necessary support in rescuing the two BRAC staff members. He also communicated with his Advisor of Security and conveyed a message to the Ghazni police. BRAC Afghanistan authorities also informed the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development of the incident and are now in continuous communication with the Afghan authorities regarding the matter.

A high level team has been sent to Ghazni from the BRAC Afghanistan head office in Kabul to gather information and to liaise with the Afghani authorities, including the Governor and Chief Security Officer of Ghazni. Senior BRAC Afghanistan officials will also meet with the Afghan Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Ehsan Zia, on Sunday.

BRAC officials in Bangladesh have been in communication with the families of Akhter and Shahjahan, keeping them informed of the latest situation and providing all necessary support.

Ghazni is one of thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, with its capital in Ghazni City.  The province lies in the eastern part of the country, south-west of Kabul. BRAC Afghanistan has been working in Ghazni for the last three years. Telephone networks in Ghazni have been inoperative for the last four days, making communication extremely difficult.
 

26 October 2008, Dhaka. BRAC Executive Director of Overseas Programmes, Md. Aminul Alam, and Director, Public Affairs & Communications, M. Anwarul Haq attended a meeting on Sunday afternoon with the Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Government of Bangladesh, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, and the Afghan Ambassador to Bangladesh, Ahmad Karim Nawabi, to discuss the abduction last Thursday of the two BRAC Afghanistan area managers in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The BRAC senior officials urged the Bangladeshi government to extend all possible collaboration in their efforts to secure the release of the kidnapped staff members. The Foreign Affairs Adviser assured that all cooperation will be extended by the Foreign Ministry and also made an appeal to the Afghanistan government, through the Ambassador, to extend its support.

Speaking to the media following the meeting, Md. Aminul Alam said that while BRAC’s activities would continue in Afghanistan, the organisation will work to build the capacity of its Afghan staff members so that it can withdraw all Bangladeshi employees within five years.

Earlier, senior BRAC Afghanistan officials, including the country programme coordinator Md. Fazlul Hoque, met with the Afghan Minister of Interior, Hanif Atmar, Saturday evening to discuss the matter. Mr. Atmar assured the BRAC officials that he has been taking all necessary action to rescue the abductees. During the meeting, he requested Afghan security and intelligence authorities to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, BRAC officials in Bangladesh continue to be in constant communication with the families of Akhter and Shahjahan. Md. Aminul Alam met with the wives and other family members of Akhter Ali and Mohammad Shahjahan Ali at the BRAC head office in Mohakhali on Sunday afternoon.
   

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