Visiting the BRAC Maternity Project
Some of the crafts on display
Singing and dancing at a BRAC project
"BRAC shows how microcredit schemes are a very important means of delivering self-sustainability in the poorest communities.."
In April 2008, Cherie Blair visited 2 projects in Bangladesh run by the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC).
"BRAC recognises that women are the primary caregivers, who know that the education of their children will mean the sustainability of their families and households through subsequent generations. BRAC shows how microcredit schemes are a very important means of delivering self-sustainability in the poorest communities and how women are proving to be the most responsible and successful beneficiaries." Cherie Blair
Cherie visited a microfinance scheme in a community building near central Dhaka where women showed her goods they had been able to create and sell with the help of small loans from BRAC, such as shoulder bags or mobile phone holders. Some had purchased seeds and grown vegetables to sell at the local market, another had bought a small plot of land to farm. One woman built up a small business making and trading in these local crafts, and now employs 40 other women.
In one of the most impoverished suburbs of Dhaka, Cherie visited a small house with no electricity where BRAC staff provide maternity services to women from the surrounding community. She talked to local mothers who explained how the project had benefitted them.
Another group of women present were learning about human rights from an illustrated book and a trained counsellor. They were shown how they had the right to make choices in their lives, particularly about who they marry and at what age.
"Through its years of struggle against chronic deprivation, hunger and injustice, Bangladesh has been home to many innovations in tackling poverty. BRAC, a development organisation founded in February 1972, soon after the liberation of Bangladesh, has acted as both the initiator and catalyst for many such innovations and change. Our initial focus was on assisting the refugees returning from India to their newly independent country. In 1973, we broadened our focus to long term sustainable poverty reduction. Over the course of our evolution, BRAC has established itself as a pioneer in recognising and tackling the different dimensions of poverty. Our unique, holistic approach to poverty alleviation and empowerment of the poor encompasses a range of core programmes in economic and social development, health, education, and human rights and legal services. Today BRAC is the largest southern NGO and employs more than 100,000 people, the majority of which are women, and reaches more than 110 million people with our development interventions in Asia and Africa." BRAC website
To learn more about BRAC click here