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Story and photos courtesy of Heifer Bangladesh

Jobeda Begum, 54, was married at the age of 13 in a marriage arranged by her parents. She was in grade 4. Her husband, Kholilur Rahman, was a poor day laborer in a non-agricultural field and did not have the ability to earn enough money to cover the family expenses, so the family lived hand-to-mouth.

Jobeda had two sons, and after three years of marriage, her husband died from cancer. She went to Dhaka with her two sons and got a job in a private hospital, where she worked for two years as a cleaner and earned just 2000 Bangladeshi takas, or about $25 per month. Her income was very low so she came back to her father’s house in Joari village. She began making snacks called Singara and sold them in the Joari Bazar with some of her small savings. She managed one or two meals per day for her sons.

In 2010 some women from Belly women’s self-help group invited her to create a new group and she did so willingly. The Bokul women’s group had 16 members, and Jobeda was elected president by the group members and received all the trainings for the project.

“After receiving the trainings I began to understand the values of the project and keep those in my mind for practice: Accountability, Animal Management, Spirituality, etc.,” Jobeda said. “I also learned how to prepare a vegetable garden in my yard to increase income.”

Jobeda received one male cow through the Passing on the Gift® process. She took better care of her animals and passed on her profits to her peers in installments whenever she could. Most of her group members pass on their funds by selling their cows, but from the very beginning she deposited small installments of 100 or 200 Bangladeshi takas, or about $1.30 or $2.55 per week. She said, “I deposit my pass-on fund from my small income by selling snacks and vegetables, because it’s easy for me.”

After a year and a half Jobeda sold her bull for 40,000 takas, or about $510, and bought a milking cow with a calf from the market for 31,000 takas, or about $395, and with the rest of the money, 9,000 takas, or about $115, she bought a small shop in Joari Bazar for her elder son. After five months she sold her milking cow for 25,000 takas, or about $320, and used 10,000 takas, or about $127, of it to buy some goods for the shop. With the rest of the money she made a plan to build a new house.

Now, she has regular income from the shop and also works hard in making and selling singara snacks for more income of 200-300 takas, or $2.55-$3.82 per day. Her dreams of building a new house are slowly coming true.    

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Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.