Medical &Health

A village of expat women

DHAKA - "I had no work, no food and also had no dream. I was just hopeless and frustrated with my life.

But my wife changed my fate totally when she got an overseas job," Mosharaf Hossain, a villager of Basotpur Colony in Sharsha upazila of Jessore district, said.

Every month Mosharaf's wife Kanchan Akter sends Tk 20,000 to him from Jordan, where she has been working as a housemaid for 14 years.

The couple was blessed with a 16-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter.

From that money, Mosharaf has bought five bighas of cropland, five cows and a motorcycle as well as constructed a building. He has also two fixed deposits in banks.

But just 14 years ago, Mosharaf had nothing except his two mighty hands and wife Kanchon.

At that time, he worked as a day labourer. With his very little income it was very tough to run a five-member family including Kanchon, his son, niece and mother.

Besides working on other's land, he used to sell nice-looking stationery at nearby villages to raise his income.

Like them, almost every family at the village had lived under poverty line. But there were two families which were exception from it.

Female members of these two families had worked abroad and sent huge amount of money every month.

In 2000, the entire area was washed away by a devastating flood, causing huge food crisis. During the deluge, the people of the village just lived on the government relief.

After the flood, Mosharaf's sister-in-law Royeka went to Dubai in 2001.

Royeka's maternal aunt Jahanara, who was in Dubia since 1990, helped her to go to the UAE. After one year of stay in Dubai, Rokeya sent a visa for her husband.

Later, she also gave visas to her two brothers, brother-in-laws and others.

Rokeya's success story inspired all local women and men in going abroad, especially in the Middle East.

In 2003, like other male residents of the village, Mosharaf also sent her wife to the Middle East. His brother and sister-in-law Rokeya helped him financially in sending his wife to Jordan.

Other women of the village went to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Oman and other Middle Eastern countries.

Now, total population of the village is about 7,000. Among them, 1600 women and 600 men work in different Middle Eastern countries. Ali Hoosain, a UP member of Basotpur Colony ward, said: "Middle East-goer females at my village have changed the entire scenario of the area. Once we were the poorest village in the area.

Now we are one of the richest villages in the upazila. Villagers also bought lands in different parts of the district with the money coming from Middle East, especially the UAE."

Ismail Hossain, a teacher of Basotpur Colony Government Primary School, said: "Just 17 years ago, there was no university student at our village. But now we have many students who have been studying at universities including Dhaka University."

Ismail, also a local physician, said: "Our women have changed the lifestyle of the men in the areas. Now women from other villages go to the Middle East for work, but our women were the pioneer and flag-bearers."

An expatriate woman's husband Zakir Hossain said: "Our women are the blessings for us. Actually they are the breadwinners ... we just run the families."

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)