Minara Begum is a very special lady in Amtoli Upazila of Barguna district, well known for her courage and hard work. Her determination to lift herself out of extreme poverty to a stable financial position has drawn the attention of many people in the locality. Her strength and resilience is evident in how she survived the devastating cyclone ‘Sidr’, which hit the coast of Bangladesh in 2007, and rebuilt her life afterwards.
Minara’s life had never been easy. Her first husband divorced her for not being able to bear children and her second husband was too ill to earn much. So she had to take up most of the burden of the family. With money she had received from her first husband, Minara bought a cow and slowly she was able to increase her livestock up to nine, which she sold in order to buy land. But misfortune struck her when cyclone Sidr destroyed her standing crops and smashed the roof of her house, which fell on her husband. Since then her husband has been suffering from back pain, unable to work as a day laborer in the field and has become totally dependent on Minara’s income.
Cyclone Sidr left Minara in a hopeless state - she had lost everything she had worked so hard for. She had no clothes; she could afford only one meal a day. Fortunately, she was selected as a beneficiary of the Livestock subcomponent of the Emergency Cyclone Recovery and Restoration Project (ECRRP) in 2010 and given training in the Livestock Farmers’ Field School (L-FFS). She received a livestock package of ten ducks, poultry feed and an improved poultry shed. At the time of delivery of the package, she had no livestock and the yearly income of her family was only Tk. 12,000 ($150) mostly from her wages as a day laborer. She had only 40 decimals of land, including her homestead.
After receiving the ten ducks from the ECRRP, she reared those, and when they matured, she sold eggs and ducklings. She then used part of the money earned to purchase goats, eventually selling them and buying a calf. She also used money earned from her profits to release her husband’s mortgaged land.
Says Minara Begum: “I run the family as my husband cannot work. If any unforeseen problem arises, then I can handle it by selling a goat; otherwise I am unable to do it. That is why I’m trying for more income. I do not have any children, but I have the future. If I remain sick for five days, there is none to look after me. If I have money, then others will look after me.”
Minara’s belief in herself and her attempts to improve her situation despite all misfortunes has greatly encouraged the local people to try and improve their circumstances. Her patience and perseverance paid off and she is now the proud owner of seven goats, one cow, one calf, several hens and a few ducks. She runs the family by selling eggs, milk and livestock. Her annual income has increased more than four times in three years and is now Tk. 50,000 ($625). Thus her dream of a better life has been realized after receiving the ten ducks.
Minara has also earned the respect of her peers and neighbors. They often come to her for advice. She has been selected as co-chair of her L-FFS and her opinion is valued in her community; in many ways, this forty-five year old woman is considered a star. She has also been invited along with other successful beneficiaries to different Upazilas to explain her experience to the livestock holders, and share her success stories. Thanks to a simple livestock package provided by the ECRRP, she has been able to overcome all hurdles and ultimately triumph over her misfortunes.