21 August 2009, Dhaka. -- “BRAC is making an impressive contribution to the development of Bangladesh. I was very impressed with the BRAC programs I observed in Gazipur district.”, reported the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, James F. Moriarty, following a recent BRAC visit. The Ambassador, along with Mrs. Lauren Moriarty, Mr. Carey Gordon, Deputy Mission Director, USAID, and other Embassy staff, visited BRAC programmes in Gazipur district on August 18 to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of BRAC.
US Ambassador Observing Activities of a BRAC Village Organisation Meeting at Dhanua village of Sreepur upazila
Ambassador Moriarty’s visit began with the observation of a microfinance group meeting in Dhanua village of Sreepur upazila. He had lively exchanges with the group members about loan sizes, use of the loans by the women, means of repayment and their economic condition after becoming a BRAC borrower.
The US Embassy team observed several activities of the BRAC Health Programme. They learnt about the GoB-BRAC partnership programme for controlling tuberculosis (TB), including the first hand role played by BRAC Shasthya Shebikas (health volunteers) who administer the Directly Observed Therapy Shortcourse (DOTS) to TB patients. They met with several members of the community who are undergoing treatment and then visited a GoB Community Clinic where the TB smears are processed in a mobile laboratory. Ambassador Moriarty also spent some time talking with a pregnant woman as well as a young mother and her newborn, who are receiving support from BRAC’s Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health programme.
Later, the Ambassador and the team observed a human rights and legal education class for women in Faridpur village and engaged in discussions with the BRAC para-legal volunteer and members of the class. In reply to Ambassador Moriarty’s query about the most common legal problems faced by the community, the women cited land issues.
During his visit the Ambassador also met with the staff of BRAC’s Sreepur Area Office and the Gazipur Civil Surgeon.
16 September 2009, Dhaka. BRAC won the 'Bdjobs.com Best Employer Award 2008' from the category of NGO/Development sector. Bdjobs.com, the leading job portal in Bangladesh, has announced the winners of the 'Best Employer Award-2008' at a press conference held at its conference hall in the city on Saturday 29th August, 2009.
The selection of the award winning organisations has been based on a perception survey participated by 4,514 professionals.
For other industry/sector Grameenphone from telecommunication, Standard Chartered Bank from the bank and financial Institution, GraphicPeople and SoftwarePeople from Information technology (IT), Channel i from the media, Youngone group from textile and garment and British Americal Tobacco Bangladesh from consumer goods/ FMCG won the award.
16 September 2009, Dhaka. BRAC and Bangladesh Bank signed an agreement on disbursement of agriculture credit to sharecroppers. Under the deal, BRAC in association with other organisations will distribute the credit across the country.
Early this fiscal year, the central bank had announced an allocation of TK 500 crore as agriculture credit dedicated exclusively for the sharecroppers. This is the first ever credit allocation for the sharecroppers in the history of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Bank Govronor Dr. Ataur Rahman, General Manager S. M. Moniruzzaman, BRAC Finance & Account Director S. N. Kairy and BRAC Founder & Cairperson Fazle Hasan Abed at the signing ceremony
Bangladesh Bank earlier decided to disburse a total agriculture credit of TK 12,000 crore, including allocation for the sharecroppers for fiscal 2009-10. The allocation of increased farm credits is to support the government’s bid to boost agricultural production and keep food prices at an affordable level.
03 September 2009, Dhaka. BRAC and the International Potato Center (CIP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for sweet potato and potato collaborative research and development on 3rd September in BRAC Centre, Dhaka.
CIP is a non-profit scientific organisation established under the Consultative Group of International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) headquartered in Lima, Peru. The center works to bring about sustainable increases in production and utilisation of potato, sweet potato and other roots and tubers in the developing countries and management of agricultural resources in the Andes and other mountain areas.
BRAC carries out agricultural extension, research and support services for poor farming households in Bangladesh including those pursuing sweet potato and potato livelihoods. Both BRAC and CIP consider sweet potato and potato as key livelihood commodities with high potential impact on poverty reduction, food security and nutrition improvement in Bangladesh. The MoU will remain in effect for a period of three years.
15 September 2009, Dhaka. Under BRAC Education Programme’s (BEP) Medhabikash Programme 10 girl students have been awarded BRAC-Rai Foundation Scholarship-2009 (2nd Batch). Before departing for India, recipient students met BRAC Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed on September 09, 2009 at his office.
Under the scholarship programme they have gone to Rai Foundation, Delhi to pursue their under graduation courses. Out of 10 girls, 4 will study Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in EIILM University, Sikkim and 6 will study BBA in Behror campus, Rajasthan of Rai University. 1st Batch’s 10 girls of Medhabikash programme have already been studying B. Tech (IT & Communication) in EIILM University, Sikkim.
BRAC-Rai Foundation Scholarship-2009 recipient students met BRAC Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed at his office
Mr. Abed urged the students to come back to Bangladesh completing their study abroad and serve the nation with dexterous ability.He advised the students to work in a way so that thousands of the poor students can be benefited out of their services. “Keeping the poor people aside, Bangladesh cannot expect prosperity” he said to the students.
Among others Executive Director, BRAC Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Director,Dr. Safiqul Islam, Programme Head Md. Shahidul Hasan were present during the meeting.
Scholarship covers expenditure like tuition, boarding, lodging, medical by Rai University and all kinds of transport inside Bangladesh and up to Delhi; visa processing and passport cost by BRAC Education Programme.
Rai Foundation, India was established by renowned industrialist and philanthropic Mr. Venai Rai. It has chain colleges/universities all over India. Rai institute rankings 10 among the top institutes in India. For promoting talents Mr. Venai Rai launches GIRL GENIUS, GIFTED GIRL SCHOLARSHIP. At the outset, it offers the scholarship only to India’s disadvantaged students. Later on the support was extended to other countries including Bangladesh, Mauritaus, Bhutan, Nepal, Brazil, African countries. Rai Foundation offers 10 - 20 scholarships to Bangladesh underprivileged girl students through BEP’s Medhabikash programme each year.
25 September 2009, Dhaka. Fonkoze, BRAC, BRAC USA, Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante, CGAP, CHF Partners in Rural Development and Linked Foundation have joined forces to commit $50 million towards a two-year effort to implement a proven, replicable, cost-effective approach to improving health and reducing extreme poverty in Central Haiti.
President Clinton’s appointment as United Nations special envoy to Haiti and the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative draw attention to the extreme and persistent poverty in Haiti and the need for innovative solutions.
Fonkoze and Zanmi Lasante, two leading Haitian NGOs with decades of experience in the target area, together with BRAC, the largest NGO in the Global South, and other organizations are using their complementary strengths to improve health, eliminate extreme poverty, and develop youth leaders in this hemisphere’s poorest country.
"The needs are so great," said Fazle Hasan Abed Founder and Chairperson of BRAC. "We will work in partnership to address each facet of extreme poverty and to break its grip."
Targeting 575,000 people in Haiti’s Central Plateau, the major components of this commitment involve building:
» Safety nets with transitions to sustainable enterprise for the most vulnerable;
» Comprehensive health services;
» Food security and agricultural training and employment;
» Improved water access and sanitation; and
» Youth leadership development and training.
“Bringing together our combined successes and expertise in a comprehensive economic, health, and leadership development approach is the precise, direct strategy needed at this crucial time,” said Anne Hastings, Director of Fonkoze. “We all seek to build a sustainable future for Haiti and her people.”
16 October 2009, Dhaka. In keeping with the theme for this year’s International Day for Eradication of Poverty, “Children and families speak out against poverty” BRAC organized, among other events, an art festival titled “Drawing a World Fit for All Children” at the Central Shahid Minar from 9 am to 12 pm. Over 300 students from mainstream institutions such as Scholastica and Sunnydale came together with children from disadvantaged backgrounds from BRAC, Streetwise, Surovi schools as well as differently abled children from Beautiful Mind school to work together to draw their vision of an ideal world.
The event was sponsored by BRAC Enterprises with transport sponsor Aktel and media partner Radio Foorti. Event highlights included musical and dance performances by the children and a closing ceremony attended lead by BRAC Founder and Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed and senior officials from BRAC, BRAC Enterprises and Aktel.
This was most likely the first time such an event involving children from all walks of life was organized in the hope that the experience would inspire a mutual curiosity and respect for each other in the children and also result in a wonderful, colorful expression of their idea of a poverty free world.
The occasion was also the launch of a mobile photo exhibition depicting images of people from all across Bangladesh working to overcome poverty. The exhibition sponsored by BRAC Bank Ltd., displaying photographs taken by students at Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography, aims to generate optimism in the audience and act as a call to action in joining the fight against poverty. The exhibit was on display at Shahid Minar grounds during the art festival and will be present at several other prominent locations around the city during the following week.
In addition, BRAC and the Bangladesh Government are jointly organizing human chains, discussion sessions and cultural programmes at the district level on October 17th.
28 October 2009, Dhaka. For the first time in Bangladesh, BRAC has launched a new credit scheme ‘Borga Chashi Unnayan Project' for the sharecroppers of the country who hardly get any loan from the traditional banking system. On Tuesday, 27 October, 2009 Bangladesh Bank governor Dr. Atiur Rahman inaugurated the scheme by distributing the first loans to a group of sharecroppers consisting of 25 at Hosenpur village, in Chandpur district. BRAC Executive Director Dr. Mahabub Hossain and senior officials of regional central banks were also present. Governors and deputy-governors of the central banks of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Nepal and other SAARC countries also witnessed the event.
Speaking at the inauguration, Dr. Rahman said, "This scheme would bring a revolutionary change among our farmers. Such an initiative is the first of its kind in Bangladesh."
Dr. Hossain while describing the lending procedure stated, "A sharecropper now can take loans ranging from TK 5,000 to TK 25,000 collateral free at the cost of only 10 percent interest. In the first phase, the farmers will repay 30 percent of the loan through weekly instalments. BRAC will realise the rest 70 percent loan repayment after the two harvest seasons."
Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, governor of Afghanistan Bank said "We're really surprised to see this programme. It's amazing that a landless farmer can cultivate crops by taking loans without a mortgage deal."
During the event, BRAC also distributed BRAC seeds among the farmers. At the end, BRAC's popular theatre group also performed a play named ‘In search of Happiness' depicting a sharecropper's life and how the traditional money lender exploits them.
25 August 2010, Dhaka. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed a Group of Eminent Persons to advise on the support needed to help the world’s poorest nations achieve their development targets.
BRAC's Founder and Chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, was among the ten people selected to join the Group.
"The members have been selected in view of their high international stature, expertise and strong commitment to global development," said the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General. "They will be making efforts to raise public awareness and build strong political commitment in support of the LDCs in key areas, including trade, investments, technology transfer, official development assistance, building productive capacities, adaptation to the effects of climate change, and a stimulus package to manage the impacts of the global financial crisis."
Others in the Group include, Alpha Oumar Konaré, former president of the Republic of Mali; Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission; Nancy Birdsall, the founding president of the Center for Global Development; Kemal Dervi vice president and director of Global Economy and Development at Brookings Institution; James Wolfensohn, chairman and CEO of Wolfensohn & Company and former President of the World Bank; Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Company Ltd.; Louis Michel, member of European Parliament and formerly the European commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid; Louis A. Kasekende, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Uganda and formerly executive director at the World Bank; and Sir Richard Jolly, Honorary Professor of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.
03 August 2010, Dhaka. With the heavy rainfalls and the ensuing flood in Pakistan, BRAC temporarily halted its microfinance and health operations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and is focusing on providing emergency relief. “Drawing upon years of experience in flood relief work in Bangladesh, a flood-prone country, BRAC Pakistan staff are rapidly and effectively assisting the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province,” said Susan Davis, President & CEO of BRAC USA.
Reuters/Adrees Latif, courtesy www.alertnet.org
The shortage of food is acute. BRAC Pakistan has begun to deliver food packets which contain rice, lentils, flour, and water purification tablets. To combat the threat of diarrheal diseases breaking out, BRAC is distributing Oral Rehydration Solution sachets. This is a staple commodity distributed by BRAC’s health program in every country where we operate, including Pakistan. Additionally, BRAC will be sending a medical team for assessment of health needs in the affected communities.
Of the houses that are still standing many are under water. BRAC’s staff in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa expect the water to recede in 2-3 days, but “this part of Pakistan is not accustomed to floods,” said Mr. Aminul Alam, Executive Director of BRAC International. “In Bangladesh, we are used to this so we can prevent casualties there. But here the families and communities we serve are not used to this. We want to help because of BRAC’s experience of dealing with floods in Bangladesh over the years.”
BRAC Pakistan has been operating in Pakistan since 2007 providing microfinance throughout 94 branches to 106,000 people. Of BRAC’s 12 offices in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 10 are under water. However, BRAC’s existing footprint in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the extensive network of local staff give BRAC a starting point through which relief will be delivered.
“Many families that we serve have seen their houses washed away. Many houses of our staff members were also washed away. But as a BRAC staff member they can be effective in delivering relief to the families and communities that they serve every day,” said Mr. Faridhur Rahman, BRAC Pakistan CEO.
“Vehicles cannot go in to flooded areas, and there is a lack of boats in this area. We have no choice but to wade through water and deliver relief supplies on foot where we can, even in flooded areas,” said Mr. Rahman.
BRAC, the largest non-profit in the developing world, was launched in Bangladesh in 1972 and currently touches the lives of more than 138 million people through its programs addressing poverty including micro-loans, education, health services, self-employment opportunities and human rights education. BRAC’s vision is to improve the health, wealth and well being of millions of the poorest families primarily in Asia and Africa. BRAC has provided $6.7 billion in micro-loans to nearly eight million borrowers, mostly women, and created 9 million self-employment opportunities. BRAC’s 84,000 community health promoters have provided basic health services to nearly 100 million people. Currently, BRAC has programs in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Haiti, Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Southern Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda. BRAC USA is a 501 c 3 affiliate in New York. To learn more about BRAC, please visit www.bracusa.org.
Md. Faridhur Rahman
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