Jackie Garcia, our International Programmes Coordinator, visited the Y Care International project taking place in four districts of Bangladesh – Barisal, Cumilla, Jessore and Pabna earlier this month. The project is in partnership with YWCA Bangladesh and supports nearly 5000 young men and women to lead healthier lives by learning about sexual education health and rights. The project supports vulnerable young women in particular and educates young people through group meetings, peer to peer conversation and schools clubs. The sessions focus on education of sexual reproductive health, gender-based violence, the impact of child marriage, and other gender-related issues.
Jackie visited the project to offer support for the wrap-up of the project that is coming to an end in December. Here, we share a photo diary of the trip!
Day 1 – Arriving with our partners at YWCA Bangladesh in Dhaka and a great motto to start the trip with our YMCA family – “By love serve one another”. Say hello to the in-country project manager, Purabi, and the monitoring and evaluation officer Supti.
Day 2 – I met with the project team who have been running the project in Bangladesh. Though I speak to the team on a weekly basis it’s always great to see them face to face and discuss the project and its progress in person. We discussed the exit strategy and the details of the final evaluation.
I also had the opportunity to visit YWCA Dhaka and meet some of the students that started in the YWCA primary school and now are about to take the exam to get into college. Even they left YWCA primary school some years ago to attend secondary schools they are still engaged with YWCA and came to visit them.
Day 3 – A full day of travelling, starting with a 7-hour boat trip from Dhaka to Barisal, one of the locations where the project’s activities are taking place.
Day 4 – Today was a full day visiting the project activities in Barisal. It was a full day of sitting in on the group meetings with beneficiary groups and community members. The groups I was with spoke through the negative impacts of early marriages in the community. It was facilitated by peer educators who have been trained by the YWCA previously. The peer educators have been trained to share their knowledge and advocate for positive change – empowering the communities we work with directly is a much more sustainable way of concreting change.
The benefits of meeting outside in courtyards? A refreshing glass of milk from the goat that shares the space with us.
Day 5 – Today I visited a health club that has been established in a school in the district. It was great to meet women so determined to make the most of their education. After this last meeting it was time for the 7-hour return boat to Dhaka.
Day 6 – After a short night’s sleep back at the YWCA Bangladesh in Dhaka it was time to travel again and I hopped on a plane for a small flight to another district, Jessore. It was wonderful to get to know the ladies who run the YWCA and…
… there’s always time for a Village People style YMCA – but in this case YWCA!
Day 7 – My final day in this beautiful country I head to the YMCA Bangladesh to meet the National General Secretary and discuss about future opportunities to work together. I also had the opportunity to meet with Susanne Furler from Horyzon, the Swiss equivalent of Y Care International, who was also visiting their project in Bangladesh.
Then it was time for the last dinner in the guest house before my flight home! This is my second visit to Bangladesh and it gets better every time I visit. Despite the chaos of Dhaka, the long journey distances and the spicy food (unfortunately I have not been used to the stratospheric level of spiciness!) I think Bangladesh is a warm country thanks to its people. They are always happy to welcome you and they all open the doors to their houses and share what they have. Though this brilliant project is coming to an end I saw the determination of young people and peer educators who went through the training with the YWCA to continue to make a positive impact in their families and communities.
The project is financially supported by the UK Gov’s Department for International Development (DfID), UK Aid and other donors who wish to remain anonymous.