By SM Zahid Hossain
KHULNA, May 31, 2017 (BSS) - Members of 260 landless families in different villages of the country's southern district are now dreaming of a better life with support of the government's Ashrayan Project.
"We used to live under a shed on a roadside tree in Katakhali area. Now we have got a permanent place to live," said Josna Begum, 40, who lives at a shelter center at Vanderpara of Dumuria upazila.
Her eyes were filled with tears as she recalled the hardship she suffered earlier when she and her husband, a rickshaw van puller, had little to have a roof upon their heads.
However, the Ashrayan Project, one of the special initiatives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, changed their live. Launched in 1997 after a catastrophic cyclone that submerged Saint Martin Island, has now become an effective housing for the landless people.
Md. Billal Sana, 35, a farmer and another inhabitant of the shelter center, said he and many others are farming fish and vegetables on cooperative basis and started sending their kids to nearby Vandarpara (Ashrayan Project) government primary school.
Sana said there are four ponds in the project where fish is cultivated under cooperatives system. The poor and destitute people are now happy getting shelter there, he added.
He, however, urged the authorities concerned to carry out repairing works of the houses on time to avoid damages especially during the rainy seasons.
Zakia Begum, 35, has been living here for 13 years, said they grow vegetables and run poultry farm around their houses for income generation.
Elderly Shukzan Bibi who lives with her three son and daughters, said they earlier lived on the bank of a river in a hardship.
"Now the government has given us a shelter. We are growing vegetables and running poultry farm. There is no problem for reading and writing of my children as electricity is available here. May Allah bless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government," she said.
Sirazul Islam, head master of Vanderpara Primary School, said real landless, ultra poor and shelter-less people have got refuge under the project.
"Repairing and maintenance of the houses is necessary now as the shelter centers had been built 13 years ago," he said.
Khulna deputy commissioner Md. Amin UL Ahsan said, a total of 41 Ashryan Projects have been implemented in nine upazila of the district where 30,312 families were rehabilitated.
He said the Ashrayan Project has not only given shelters to the poor families, but also made arrangements for self-employment, health services, sanitation, drinking water and education for children to make them self-reliant.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)