100,000 more homeless families will be given houses by December
Abu Salek, in his early 40s, had a very painful life for the last 26 years as he had no home of his own. He now thinks life could be better, much better!
"At one point in time, things were horrible for me... I spent 26 years without a home," Salek said.
Salek is no longer a homeless man as he, along with many others, has got a semi-pucca two-decimal house gifted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last January as a part of the house and rehabilitation program in Mujib Borsho.
Salek, a day-labourer, is the lone bread earner of his seven-member family consisting of two sons, two daughters, wife and mother.
His family was given a tin-roofed pucca house at Uttar Jangal village in Brahmanbaria Sadar upazila under the Ashrayan-2 project run by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Abu Salek told this Correspondent about how a modern house on his own land changed their identity and lifestyle.
He said they had to borrow huge money for sending his elder brother, Abu Kawsar, abroad in 1994 to do a job there. His brother had been to the UAE twice but with no luck as he failed to cope up with the condition there and got back home.
Later, the family sold out their last asset --the homeland- to get rid of the debt burden, and took shelter on the land of their relatives at Birampur village in 1995.
They had to live in a shabby hut there for the last 26 years as he was unable to have a permanent house of his own with the small income that he gets as a day-labourer. He earns Tk 300-Tk 400 a day which is too inadequate to support the family.
With his monthly income of Tk 6,000 to 8,000, Salek said, he could not dream of having a house of his own, let alone building a semi-pucca house with sanitation and electricity facilities.
"Now we've got a permanent address. We've got an identity. No one can call me homeless. Our lives have changed!" Salek said.
Dulal Miah, 37, an amputee, said his family now lives in a much better condition than they had expected after they got a spectacular abode at the same location -- Uttar Jangal village.
His right wrist got amputated when was only 7 after his hand got bruised in a wall collapse in Chittagong.
His family was in Chittagong and had no home at their ancestral village in Brahmanbaria Sadar upazila. Dulal Miah married Nazma Akter 16 years ago and started living in the Mohiuddinnagar area of the upazila. Now they have four sons.
Though he used to earn nominal money for his family pulling either a rickshaw or a van for 12-13 years, now he is unable to do it. But his wife works as domestic help and the family survives with her earning and the assistance they get from their relatives and neighbours.
With this gift from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said, their sufferings now have largely eased, though they are still struggling to manage food for his family as their eldest son has yet to start earning.
Like these two, six other families got the houses at the same location on January 23 this year when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gifted nearly 70,000 houses and lands under the Ashrayan-2 project in the first phase of the Mujib Year, marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Now 12 more families are going to get houses in the same place as the Prime Minister is set to inaugurate the distribution of 53,340 houses among the homeless and landless families on Sunday in the second phase of the Mujib Year.
Director of Ashrayan-2 Project Md Mahbub Hossain said the houses are given in line with the Prime Minister's announcement that no one will remain homeless and landless in Bangladesh.
Noting that a large number of homeless families are rehabilitated by providing houses and lands, he said it is a rare example in the world. "It's Sheikh Hasina's model for inclusive development," said the project director, adding that both the husband and wife are given the joint ownership of a homeland to ensure gender equality here.
Mahbub Hossain said one lakh more families will be given houses by December next in the Mujib Year under the same project