21 February 2013, Dhaka. BRAC is launching its very own Bengali website – www.brac.net.bd on the 21st February, 2013. BRAC Founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed opened the website at the launching ceremony held at BRAC Centre.
Prominent media personality Shykh Seraj, BRAC’s Vice -Chairperson AMR Chowdhury, Sr Directors Babar Kabir and Asif Saleh were present at the event. The website is designed to create better access to information for a wider range of clients, partners, journalists and researchers in Bengali.
On explaining the purpose of the website the Chairperson said, “Our accountability is to the people of our country and this Bengali website will expand its reach to a wider range.”
The launching day of the website coincides with International Mother Language Day to commemorate the martyrs who fought for the right to speak in Bengali in 1952. To promote greater transparency and accountability for the people of the country, BRAC initiated the Bengali website to capture the spirit and essence of the International Mother Language Day.
The website provides in depth information about BRAC’s programmes in the areas of social and economic empowerment, education, health care, human rights, agriculture and food security, as well as environment sustainability and disaster preparedness among others, in Bangladesh and 10 other countries where BRAC operates.
The new Bengali website will operate simultaneously with the English website www.brac.net .
14 February 2013, Dhaka. Across Bangladesh, more than 2millionpeople pledged to raise their voice in protest of violence against women, forming a human chain today from 1:00-1:30pm, in solidarity with 'One Billion Rising' in 200 countries.
In the Gulshan, Mohakhali and Tejgaon area of Dhaka, over 3,000 people primarily consisting of staff from BRAC head office, BRAC University, BRAC Bank and Aarong participated in the human chain. The chain was formed from Mohakhali Jolkhabar Mor up to ShahidTajuddin Ahmed Sharani in Tejgaon. BRAC senior management, including Managing Director M A (Rumee) Ali, Group CFO SN Kairy, Senior Directors Asif Saleh and Babar Kabir, and other BRAC directors joined the chain. People from neighbouring organisations also participated.
Similar chains were formed at BRAC's 460 branch offices in54 districts, where 1.5 million students and parents protested at 17,000 BRAC school premises, while 13,000 school girls and parents from BRAC’s MEJNIN programme also participated. Additionally, more than 450,000 Polli Shomaj members under BRAC’s community empowerment programme also stood hand-in-handintheir respective areas. Hundreds of tea labourers at BRAC tea estates in Chittagong have also joined hands, standing up against violence on women. BRAC Director Dr. Faustina Pereira coordinated the countrywide participation of all BRAC members.
The One Billion Rising initiative is a globally acclaimed campaign, encouraging men and women to pledge against all forms of violence on women. Till now, 200 countries have participated in this campaign, Bangladesh being one of them. In today’s human chain, people from all strata of the society have expressed their solidarity in taking necessary actions against this social evil.
View the report of celebration on map: www.brac.net/obr
11 February 2013, Dhaka. One in three women around the world will be beaten, raped, killed, or face some form of abuse in her lifetime. In a move to stop violence against women, the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign was initiated to raise awareness amongst millions of people worldwide on this issue. The OBR movement aims to bring women and men across the world, urging them to take a stance to stop violence against women. To date, 190 countries have been brought under this movement, including Bangladesh. On 14th February, men and women of all strata will join the OBR movement and unite under the cause of ensuring immediate measures are taken to prevent violence against women, and protect the survivors of these vicious acts.
Widely recognised as one of the best and most effective development organisations in the world, BRAC’s priorities are dedicated to empowering women from all spheres of the society, particularly the rural communities. BRAC is coordinating various activities throughout Bangladesh, actively engaging in spreading awareness through of this global movement. To ensure the success of the OBR campaign, a committee was formed comprising of several development and human rights organisations, of which BRAC is a proud member.
Keeping in line with this objective, multiple programmes have been planned throughout the country. The following events will take place at BRAC’s head office on 14 February 2013:
1. A human chain will be formed, covering both sides of the street in front of BRAC head office from 1-1.30pm.
2. All BRAC employees will be wearing the common badge and take oath together.
3. BRAC University students and other organisations around the area have been invited to join the movement, and awareness raising leaflets have been prepared for distribution.
06 February 2013, Dhaka. Larry Simon, Professor of International Development, and Director of Graduate Programmes in Sustainable International Development at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and long-term friend of BRAC, delivered a fascinating and challenging talk on 5thFebruary in BRAC Centre on ‘Paulo Freire and Subaltern Consciousness’. Over 150 BRAC staff and BRAC University academics attended the talk, engaging in a very lively discussion.
Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher, best known for his influential work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) which Larry Simon demystified for the audience; explaining how the oppressed cannot be served by treating them as unfortunates, and by presenting them with models of development from among the oppressors. As Freire said, “The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption”. Freire’s ideas on ‘conscientisation’ have played an important part in influencing the development of BRAC. As BRAC’s founder and chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed has said, “People are poor because they are powerless. We must organise people for power. They must organise themselves so that they may change their lives”.
The talk was chaired by BRAC’s vice-chairperson, Mushtaque Chowdhury, who explained the pronounced influence of Paulo Freire on BRAC’s work in its early years. There were many stimulating contributions, including one from Syed M. Hashemi, Director of BRAC Development Institute, BRAC University, who drew a parallel between the influence of Liberation Theology on Paulo Freire and the way in which Maulana Bashani addressed the liberation of the oppressed in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
BRAC’s executive director Dr Mahabub Hossain concluded the enlightening discussion and thanked Larry Simon for his elucidation. He fully recognised the importance and influence of Paulo Freire’s ideas on BRAC and others, in support of the poor and oppressed in Bangladesh and elsewhere. He appreciated the effort and enthusiasm of all those who attended the talk and encouraged all to create further opportunities to study and discuss Paulo Freire’s texts and their application to their own work. It is not only the poor who need opportunities for ‘conscientisation’ but every individual.
31 January 2013, Dhaka. BRAC family is deeply shocked and mourns at the sudden demise of a young professional Dr. Sajia Afrin Eva (27), who was brutally killed on Friday November 30, 2012 while performing night shift duty at Dokhinkhan BRAC Clinic in Dhaka. Dr. Sajia started working with BRAC Clinic as a temporary shift duty doctor from November 01, 2012. She had graduated from Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College in 2008 and was undergoing postgraduate training at Shaheed Sarawardi Medical College Hospital. Although she was only with us for a short period of time, her efforts and dedication were much appreciated.
On 29 November 2012 Dr. Sajia came to Dokhinkhan BRAC Clinic at around 8.00 pm to carry out night shift duty. She provided medical care to admitted patients and then went to doctor’s duty room at around 10.00 pm. On the next morning (30 November, 2012) at around 6.45 am, duty nurse found Dr. Sajia lying down on the floor in doctor’s duty room. The clinic management immediately informed the tragic incident to the police, higher authority of BRAC and to Dr. Sajia’s family.
As soon BRAC Management heard of this great tragedy, the organization decided to provide all support to her family including logistical, financial, legal and emotional support to help deal with this immense loss. Upon learning of the murder BRAC Clinic Management and BRAC Security Department provided extended support and worked with the police department to quickly identify and capture the culprit. BRAC Management also asked all BRAC staff present at the clinic during the incident to provide all kinds of support in the investigation of the murder case by extending all co-operation to the Investigation Officers. On that very day (30 November, 2012), with support from BRAC Administration and Security Department, Dr. Sajia’s father Mr. Manirul Islam filed a case at Dokhinkhan Police Station against four persons including guard/ward boy Faisal (27) as the key suspect. The key suspect Faisal was arrested the next day December 01, 2012 from his village home and within short time he confessed the killing to the police, media, and then to the court.
Dr. Sajia was buried at her home village on December 01, 2012. The ritual was attended by BRAC’s local district representative and managers along with twelve other regular staff. BRAC arranged transportation for carrying the dead body and covered the burial expenses. Within days (on December 5, 2012) BRAC organized a Doa and Milad Mohfil at BRAC Head Office which was attended by BRAC senior management, including Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and representatives of the Bangladesh Medical Association, and family members to honor Dr. Sajia’s memory and the eternal peace of her departed soul.
BRAC takes this tragedy very seriously and will continue to do everything possible to ensure security and safety of all BRAC staff in workplace, in particular females. In order to bring the real criminals under the law ensuring justice to the deceased, BRAC is working together with Dr. Sajia’s family with keeping regular communication with professional bodies like Bangladesh Medical Association. Since mostly female patients are admitted in BRAC clinics and most of the clinic staffs are female, it is a regular practice that male visitors are not allowed to stay or enter inside the clinic after 10.00 pm. After 10.00 pm only clinic staff are allowed to stay inside in their respective duty stations. However, following the tragic incident, further security measures have been introduced for all BRAC Clinics.
Apart from this, BRAC Gender Justice and Diversity Programme (GJDP) organized multiple rallies, seminars, human chains in protesting recent women harassment incidents and violence across the country. The GJDP recently organized a seminar entitled “Violence against Women Rape-Gang Rape: things to do and strategies of prevention” on January 22, 2013 at BRAC Center which was participated by different NGOs, Civil Society Groups, and government representatives.
Although there is no way to make up for the loss to Dr. Sajia’s family, out of consideration for the fact that Dr. Sajia had just begun her livelihood as a doctor, BRAC wanted to provide a humanitarian grant of assistance. BRAC has offered Dr Saji’s family a humanitarian grant of Ten Lac taka and an offer of employment at the BRAC Head Office at a monthly salary of 20,000 taka for her younger sister, Ms. Nadia Afrin, who has just completed her BBA.
30 January 2013, Dhaka. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC, submitted a memorandum on increasing violence against women to the deputy speaker of National Parliament, Shawkat Ali on January 29, 2013. A gathering of civil society members, activists, academicians, students, journalists, lawyers and policy makers was arranged by the Prothom Alo Trust to address concerns on this critical issue and discuss a memorandum drafted to call for immediate measures to stop further violence against women.
Recently there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of women and child abuse, acid attacks, rape and murder. Often there is noticeable lack of proper steps taken in accumulating evidence and witness against those who have been arrested, helping many of the culprits to escape federal punishment. As such, the violence against women continues to increase. In the memorandum, a three-point demand was raised, stipulating proactive role by the law enforcement agencies to stop violence against women, exemplary punishments of the criminals by justice department, and improved laws to ensure justice for every incident.
The Prothom Alo Trust organised the meeting and procession in collaboration with Sommilito Sangskritik Jot, Muktijuddho Jadughor, Ain O Salish Kendra, Gono Shakkhorota Abhijan, Bangladesh Mohila Porishad, Acid Survivors Foundation, various development agencies, women foundations, cultural groups, Prothom Alo Bondhu Shova, and members of various other professional organisations. After the meeting at the Shahid Minar, where Sir Fazle read out the memorandum, a procession was held. A small representative team, headed by Sir Fazle, went forward to submit the memorandum to the deputy speaker.
23 January 2013, Dhaka. On 11 January 2013, the grand finale of Deepshikha – a cultural competition for BRAC pre-primary and primary students – was held at Rabindra Sarobor in Dhanmondi, Dhaka. Competitions were held in four categories – song, dance, recitation, and drawing – with 106 students participating. A series of school, branch, district, and divisional level competitions were held since March 2012, and involved thousands of children from across Bangladesh, after which these talented finalists were selected to compete in the finale. The winners of last year’s competition also performed at the grand finale event. The culminating competition was very well-attended, drawing a huge audience eager to see the performances of these gifted students.
Renowned artists from different fields including Ferdous Ara, S. I. Tutul, Laila Hasan, Shimul Mustafa, and Kanak Chapa Chakma, served as judges and selected the winners from the participants. Dr Mahabub Hossain, executive director of BRAC, and joined by other BRAC directors, distributed the prizes to the winners.
In collaboration with the popular television channel, Channel I, five video episodes on the Deepshikha programme (two on the quarter-final, two on the semi-final, and one on the grand finale) have been prepared for telecasting. On 15 January 2013, just after the broadcast of the grand finale, a talk show on Deepshikha was also telecast on Channel I, where the Secretary of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Mr MM Niazuddin, renowned novelist Selina Hossain, and director of BRAC Education Programme Dr Safiqul Islam, participated as discussants. These broadcasts were aimed popularising the concept of co-curricular arts activities amongst Bangladeshi communities.
The Deepshikha competition series was first initiated in 2011 in an effort to encourage young students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to discover their hidden talents and express their creativity. This cultural competition is the latest of BRAC’s efforts to incorporate more experiential and kinaesthetic learning into traditional education in order to promote the holistic development of its students. Co-curricular activities in BRAC schools include songs, rhymes, drama, storytelling, drawing, games, and other practical hands-on exercises. BRAC believes that these sorts of activities help to develop a child’s social, emotional, and communication skills, creating more well-rounded students who will be more likely to succeed in the future.
The response from students, parents, and communities to the Deepshikha programme has been overwhelmingly positive, and has helped to build support and enthusiasm for increasing co-curricular activities in BRAC pre-primary and primary schools.
The success of Deepshikha has inspired the BRAC Education Programme (BEP) to revisit the current structure of co-curricular activities. BEP plans to modify its programme of co-curricular activities to increase the emphasis on rhythmic and kinaesthetic intelligences within the curriculum, incorporating more physical and artistic activities. Currently Deepshikha is developing master trainers (MT) on drawing, song, and dance in order to enhance the capacity of local staff and teachers in these areas, enriching these practices in BRAC schools. Thirty local resource persons (LRPs) have also been appointed as part of a pilot programme to develop expertise in song and dance amongst teachers.
The participants of the Deepshikha competition will also be tracked and supported as they continue their education so that they can further develop their special talents. Deepshikha has been working with the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (National Academy of Fine and Performing Arts), who offered training to Deepshikha participants in song, dance, recitation, drawing, etc. at their district-level academies all over Bangladesh. Shishu Academy has now also consented to provide training to Deepshikha participants at district Shishu Academies.
Thus, the Deepshikha programme is a promising initiative to enrich BRAC’s pre-primary and primary education and to inspire and engage its students. Deepshikha kindles the inner talents of underprivileged children, nourishing them and encouraging them to pursue education goals they would never have dreamed of before.
22 January 2013, Dhaka. BRAC Gender Justice and Diversity Division (GJD) organized a Youth Dialogue on “Gender Equality and Youth” with a support from Youth Forum for Poverty Alleviation and Development (YFPAD) in BRAC Auditorium, BRAC Centre on January 22, 2013. Sheepa Hafiza, Director, Gender Justice & Diversity and Migration, BRAC graced as the chief guest while Ahsanul Islam, Program Head and Gabriel Baroi, Program Coordinator attended as special guests. YFPAD President Raquibul Islam chaired and Secretary General GalibIbn Anwarul Azim moderated the session.
YFPAD is a new generation youth platform which promotes youth inclusion to development, and had been a partner of BRAC Advocacy Unit for Social Change for last two years. The platform contributed to the BRAC advocacy campaign on ultra-poverty issues titled ‘Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction- Targeting the Ultra Poor (CFPR-TUP)’ successfully.
This dialogue is a part of a GJD-YFPAD joint campaign titled ‘Awakening Youth Campaign for Reducing Vulnerability of Women’ that aims to engage youth actively into gender equality and women empowerment processes. About 50 youth leaders from 30 youth led voluntary groups participated in the dialogue and discussed how to include younger people –both women and men—in existing development practices to reduce different forms of violence against women and girls. They vowed to work as agents of change through a commitment and to form an allied network involving youth towards gender equality and women empowerment. They also agreed to join the upcoming collective initiatives undertaking by GJD and YFPAD. These include awareness workshops, alternative youth parliament, essay competition, video documentary contest, photography contest, wall magazine competitions in schools, awareness creating cycle rally and many more!
The youth led organizations comprise of Counterpart International; Economics Study Centre, Dhaka University; Business and Economics Forum, BRAC University; Initiative For Peace; Voluntary Work for Social Change; Architecture Lab Ltd; Humanity Foundation; Young Pioneers; Dhaka University Reading Club; Dhaka University Film Society; Dhaka University Debating Society; Jahangirnagar University Debating Society; North South University Debating Club; Asian University Debating Club; Green University Debating Club; Spondon Madrasha Debating Society; Dhaka City College Debating Club; BRAC University Art Society; BRAC University Adventure Club.
Participants from other organizations also like Center for Policy Dialogue; Department of Women and Gender Studies, DU and BRAC Development Institute attended the dialogue.
GJD as part of its innovation is prioritizing the involvement of youth in its programs. GJD realizes that many problems including violence and sexual harassment against girls cannot address effectively unless youth, boys and men are included in the drives.
24 January 2013, Dhaka. BRAC was ranked as the top NGO in The Global Journal’s list of the 100 Best NGOs in the World in 2013. The only NGO from Asia in the top ten, BRAC exceeded its previous rank of fourth place in 2012, surpassing other global NGO’s such as Oxfam, Care International, and Save the Children International.
In it’s special edition, The Global Journal, a Switzerland based magazine stated, “A member of the era-defining 1970s wave of Bangladeshi micro credit and microfinance pioneers alongside the Grameen Bank and ASA, BRAC has since gone on to outspace its old counterparts and assume an unparalleled position in the crowded field of international development.”
The magazine considered approximately 450 NGOs this year who were evaluated based on three criteria: impact, innovation and sustainability. “While size is not often an indication of quality, BRAC represents a welcome outlier and a continuing force for good at the global level,” the magazine stated.
BRAC, currently in its 41st year of operation, was founded by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed during the aftermath of Bangladesh’s Liberation War. The organisation is now the largest development organisation in the world, operating in 11 countries across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
In his reaction to the recognition Sir Fazle said “I hope this will encourage BRAC to continue its work with innovation and efficiency towards creating more opportunities for the poor. I thank the BRAC family for their effort and dedication for making BRAC what it is today.”
For details, visit The global Journals website: http://theglobaljournal.net
23 January 2013, Dhaka. In a new publication by the Rockefeller Foundation, titled Rebound: Building a More Resilient World, BRAC' lessons of what resilience means and what it requires was shared. Through BRAC's experiences, they explored some of the ways to help prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from the acute shocks and chronic stresses of the 21st century.