Bangladesh: Visitors Share Their Thoughts On Grameen Ventures

grameen bank head office

Grameen Bank Office in Dhaka. Image by Flickr user Rainer Ebert. CC BY-SA

Since its launch in 1976 as a research project in rural Bangladesh, the Grameen Bank has walked a long way to become what it is now, a microfinance organization and community development bank with affiliated ventures in many countries of the world. More than three decades later and boosted by many awards including the Nobel Peace Prize (jointly with its founder Dr. Muhammad Yunus in 2006), it has expanded into a family of social organizations.

Each year many volunteers and activists from the world come to visit the Grameen organizations to learn how they work and gather first hand experiences. This summer, eight students and faculty members from the Master of Public Administration program of the Northern Kentucky University (NKU) in Kentucky, USA are completing an internship in Bangladesh at Grameen Bank. They have made numerous field visits and are recording their experiences in their blogs using texts, pictures and videos.

Beth, the MPA program editor shares her experiences in her blog “They're taking me to Bangladesh“. It was hard for her to adapt to the rural infrastructure during field visits and she commented:

Being in the country at the villages is so much different than the city. It is greener. The air is less polluted and it definitely is much quieter.

A number of students are also blogging about their experiences. Mike posts some videos in his blog ‘Wait… this is how many miles away?!?!?!!’

This video contains the first visit of the NKU team to Dhamrai, the center meeting, etc.:

Brandi ventured to learn more about Bangladesh and she was able to attend a Bangladeshi wedding. She is excited about her visit to Grameen Shikhka (Grameen Education) and writes her experiences in two posts titled “I can never forget how blessed I am” and “Grameen here, Grameen there, Grameen everywhere”.

Tim elaborates about Grameen Shikkha and how children are having their education besides working to earn livelihood:

Yesterday and today we visited a school programs called Grameen Shikkha, a non-formal school program for slum children and initiative of Grameen which aim is to offer a basic education (English, Bangla, math skills, social sciences and the environment) so that when they grow older, their employment opportunities are enhanced. Odds are that without this program, these children would have no education opportunities. [..]

School runs from 2pm to 5 pm. Outside of these hours, all of these children work. Most get up early to work (around 6 am) in whatever their family business is – mostly tailoring – in this neighborhood. After class, they return and work until at least 10 pm. The work because the family needs them to as those who live in the slums earn very little (anywhere from $4 – $11 per day depending on what the children there told us their goods sold for) and need their kids to help. [..]

These kids work six days a week with this schedule. I will never complain about my workload again…can you imagine being a child and not having the time to play?

Grameen Shakti, solar powered electricity system for rural Bangladesh. Image by Flickr user Marufish. CC BY-SA

Lynne writes about her experiences in posts like Grameen Fisheries, Danone and Eye Care and Poverty is Poverty and Smiles are Smiles. She is overwhelmed by the Bangladeshi hospitality.

Tori Ames posted a lot of pictures in her posts, e.g. about Grameen Fisheries and Social Business, street children and a government primary school. She writes:

I really love Bangladesh and its beauty. I am sure you can tell that from my posts.

Brandi writes in her last post:

Today is our last day in Bangladesh and I can’t believe the trip is coming to an end. I’ve had such a wonderful time learning about Grameen Bank and the country as a whole. There is so much that I will miss about this country that I am hoping I have written enough, taken enough photos, and committed enough to memory to not let the things I love here escape me.

Read the NKU student blogs to learn more about the Grameen Bank and Bangladesh.

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