Proshika , Qazi Faruque Ahmed
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Meaning of Proshika:
A full name of proshika is Proshika manobik unayan Kendra and in English: Proshika-A center for human development. The acronym Proshika is coined form first letters of three bangla words. Words Proshikhon(training),Shikha(education)and Kaj(action) . First letters of Proshikhon is ‘Pro’ , First letter of Shikha is ‘Shi’ and first letter Kaj is ‘Ka’ . The core meaning of Proshika is with training , education and organised action overall development or human development will follow. Thus from the name Proshika it’s values , principle and programs can be understood.
Who ,when and for what objective stablished Proshika:
Dr.Qazi Faruque Ahmed established Proshika in 1976 . While working in famine stricken north Bengal of Bangladesh observed that while there was no shortage of food in the market the poor people were unable to buy the food and starving to death in consequence. He also observed that people are not protesting against this gross injustice. From this experience and observation he realised that the cause of poverty and famine is the poor do not have purchasing power and power to protest against the violations of their rights. That is poor do not have economic power nor do they have social and political power. This realisation led him to believe genuine poverty alleviation will occur if poor are involved in a process of economic and social empowerment.Programs of Increasing income and employment will enhance their economic empowerment. Programs of training and education will increase their awareness and ability to organise, hence ensuring social empowerment, and enable the poor and marginalised to take initiative to attain their rights. For these objectives Dr.Qazi Faruque Ahmed established Proshika.
Who are the poor and vulnerable in Bangladesh:
The landless , daily wage earner, marginal and small farmers ,small traders , fisherfolk , Weaver, blacksmith, potters , construction workers, domestic workers, industrial and garment workers , transport workers ,petie employees and extreme poor such as disabled, widow and victims of river errotion.
These are the people Proshika works with for their economic,social and political empowerment for poverty alleviation and its eventual eradication.
What are the causes of disempowerment of the poor and vulnerable:
In order to develop programs of empowerment of the poor, Proshika from its inception made thorough going analysis of internal and external causes of poverty.
This was done by engaging in open dialogue with the poor in the villages and urban areas .
The poor lack awareness to be united and address their problems collectively. They individually try to solve the problem and fail . The poor also lack awareness regarding social , economic, political and health issues. These lack of awareness trap them into fatalism and superstition.
Significant percentage of the poor are trapped in addictions . They smoke cigerrates, biri , and jorda with pan . Some of them also addicted to alcohol, phensydyl, heroine and yabba etc . These addictions brings economic and health disasters for them .
poor are not aware of their need for functional literacy and often do not send their children to school and make them work in the field or in the domestic chores .
The poor are not able to access bank loans as they cannot provide collateral security. They also cannot provide bribes for the loans .
The poor are subject to social, economic and political pressure of the rich and powerful in the society. The poor are dispossessed of their lands and or forced to sell their land cheaply. On the other hand urban poor are subject to extortion by the powerful. In the Shalish( community court ) dominated by the rich and powerful often deliver unfair judgement to the poor .
The poor are forced to give dowery in their daughters marriage. For this reason they often forced to sell whatever little land ,cattle and even their tin shed . Many a times to save their daughter from physical torture, they are forced to give dowery repeatedly. These barbaric oppression lead many women the commit suicide .
The environment- water ,land and air is polluted by use of chemical fertiliser and pesticides .These poisoning degrades the fertility of the soil and leads gradual decrease of production. Poisonings of food causes cancer, kidney and stomach problems . Liver as well and kidney problems are rising in alarming rate. Massive deforestation is also causing alarming degradation of environmental quality.
Natural disaster such as cyclones , floods , tornadoes , storm surge , river and hill erosion affect the poor in a disproportionate manner as their forced to live in vulnerable areas .
The poor are victim of distorted market. They are forced to sell cheaply their and whatever production they do in their land or cottage industry . The middle man make exorbitant profits selling the products , whereas the poor producers get very little of the profit. Often the poor even cannot recover their investment.
Although by government policies , government kash land(government owned land ) , water bodies and medical service are to be received by the poor free of cost but rarely the poor have any access to these resources. On the other hand the influential people have illegal access to these resources which were meant for the poor and disadvantaged.
Programs for buildings grassroots people’s organisations. If the poor are not organised they cannot work unitedly and develop their capacity to solve problems collectively as well as become active claimants of their rights. These grassroots Organizations also enhance security, dignity and self reliance of the poor. From the very inception of Proshika in 1976 ,Proshika involved the poor in building their grassroot organisations, in villages and urban slums 15-25 members of poor families formed into
Samities which are the primary organisation. Women and men are organised separately at these level. there are average 5 to 6 primary organisations in the village and urban to cover most of the poor in the community. Taking four representatives from each primary organisation of village and slums, villages and Slum federations are formed . Representatives from village and slum federation- Union and ward ferderations are formed. So far nearly 160 thousand primary groups have been formed of which nearly 98 thousand women groups and 52 thousand are male groups. There are 26500 village and slum federation 2300 union/ ward federation and 286 thana/ upozilla(sub-district) federations.