Change Stories

Spreading Our Messages to the Entire Community One PHE at a Time

Shumi has been working for the last six years as an operator for Medlar Apparels Ltd. Her husband too works in a factory and together they have a daughter who is a student of standard five. Shumi is from Barisal; she and her husband came to Dhaka to seek a better life and future for their daughter.

Shumi is a peer health educator (PHE) of the HERhealth project and has received five of its trainings. Prior to participating in the training, Shumi was not aware that water may contain so many germs, and not using sanitary napkins during menstruation may lead to many illnesses. After the trainings Shumi makes sure to boil water before drinking it and also uses sanitary napkins.

Shumi’s daughter did not like eating vegetables, but after Shumi received a handout on the benefits of eating vegetables and its importance to being healthy, she gave it to her daughter. She read it and has understood why we need to eat vegetables regularly. She eats vegetable regularly, developing a healthy eating habit.

Shumi has a neighbor who has a three year old son. Her son did not have a good appetite and did not want to eat. Shumi informed her neighbor of the trainings she received where she learned about the micronutrient powder. She learned the micronutrient powder helps to build a healthy appetite and fulfills the body’s vitamin requirements. Her neighbor listened to her and fed her child the micronutrient powder; now he eats properly and has a healthy appetite.

Shumi shared that she feels lucky to have been able to participate in the HERhealth project because it has taught her many things for a healthy lifestyle and has enabled her to help others as well.

HERhealth Training

Better be Safe than Sorry

Mitu has been living in Dhaka for the last 16 years and working for Hydroxide Knitwear Ltd. for the last 15 years. Her husband also works in Dhaka and they have two school going children. Mitu is also a peer health educator of the HERhealth project and has received five of its trainings.

After participating in training five, Mitu discussed the issue of cervical cancer with her husband. She expressed her wish to get herself tested for cervical cancer. Her husband was a bit hesitant and deemed it unnecessary for Mitu to get tested. She informed him about the training she received and its messages. Her husband then took her to BSMMU (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University). She consulted a doctor there and then underwent a pap smear to check for cervical cancer. She received the test result after a week and found out she did not have cervical cancer. She shared with the trainers, now that she has found out she does not have cervical cancer, she wants to get herself vaccinated.

“Money is of no value to me. I want to be safe and healthy for my children.” shared Mitu. She also thanked the HERhealth for the trainings and its various important messages. She is grateful because she learned about cervical cancer before it was too late and has already informed a lot of her family members and friends so that they can also get themselves tested and be safe.  

The Simple Act of Boiling Water

Shapla and her son came to Dhaka six years ago and she has been working in Apex Lingerie Ltd. Her husband is ill and lives in the village. She is a peer health educator of the HERhealth project and has completed the first training. She has learned a lot about personal hygiene and waterborne diseases. She confessed that she did not drink boiled water before the training. Shapla shared that her apartment had been struck by misfortune and fifty of her neighbors with whom she shared an apartment, suffered from diarrhea. This happened because the sewage line of the neighboring building and the water line in Shapla’s apartment got mixed. The fifty patients were taken to the Mohakhali ICCDRB hospital and one of them died.  Fortunately, Shapla and her son were not affected by the disease because she started drinking boiled water after training one. She shared the messages of training one with other neighbors, but they did not pay any heed to her advises because of which they suffered from diarrhea too. When she went to visit her neighbors in the hospital, the doctors asked her how she was the only one in the apartment who was not affected. She then shared that after the training one of the HERhealth project, she realized the importance of boiling water before drinking, for which she had been able to save herself and her son.

Due to this incident, she has realized the importance of the trainings and wants to complete all six trainings of the HERhealth project. She also thanked the HERhealth team for the trainings.

Maternal Education Empowering Families

Morjena Akter has been living in Dhaka with her husband and children for the last five years. She moved to Dhaka because she was in need of work and now she and her husband work at the same factory. She is a peer health educator (PHE) and has completed three trainings of the HERhealth project.  She has already disseminated all the things she has learned to the female workers of her line.

Last month, while visiting her village, she got to that know her sister-in-law was six months pregnant and had not yet consulted any doctor. She thought this was very risky and discussed this matter with both her brother and sister-in-law and made them understand how important it is to consult a doctor at this period. She let them know of the five danger signs during pregnancy and that if an expecting mother does not visit a doctor she might fall victim to any of these five dangers. On the next day, she took both the expecting parents to the nearest hospital. After visiting the doctor and doing some tests, it was discovered that the baby was not in the correct position, so the doctor advised them to see a doctor every month and also that the baby should be delivered in a hospital. Now, both the parents are more aware of what they should be doing during this period and they thanked Morjena for her invaluable input to save the expecting mother and child. Morjena shared that she learned all these messages from the HERhealth project trainings in her factory and also that she is a PHE.

Morjena shared, “If I did not participate in training three of the project, I will not have been able to help my sister-in-law in her critical condition. I am glad I could share the messages of the trainings with her and I want to thank the HERhealth team for this initiative.”

Saving A Friend’s Life Through Maternal Education

Monowara is a 3rd year university student who has been working as a computer operator at Dada (Dhaka) Ltd. for the last four years. She is also a peer health educator of the HERhealth project and has received all the trainings.

Monowara shared the story of her friend Shathi. Before Shathi got married, she would frequently be infected with puss in her small intestine. After her marriage, when she conceived a child, she would often feel cold and have fever. In the eighth month, she experienced labor pain while she was in her village, and had to give birth without an experienced mid-wife. Unfortunately, Shathi’s baby did not survive and died after six hours. She bled a lot after the baby was born. She also had a seizure and fever. Although she was going through so much, none of her family members took her to a doctor and instead blamed her for the incident.

When Monowra went to visit her friend after her misfortune, she witnessed the situation and realized how her friend had been neglected and ignored. Then Monowara, against the wishes of Shathi’s family, took her to consult a doctor. The doctor treated Shathi for three days and diagnosed that Shathi has an infection in her vagina, which he later understood to be the long term effect of Shathi not getting treatment for the puss infection in her small intestine. The doctor informed them that if Shathi had received correct treatment during that time this misfortune would not have occurred. Shathi is getting treatment for her problems and is doing much better than before.

Monowara said that she is glad that she got the opportunity to be a part of the HERhealth project because she learned a lot about maternal health, which later helped her to save her friend. Shathi’s family did not know the importance of taking someone to the hospital if they have an early labor. If Monowara did not visit Shathi when she did, she would not have been able to take her to a doctor and diagnose the real problem and Shathi’s family too would have blamed her for the death of her child instead of understanding that she was ill. They have now realized their mistake and are taking good care of Shathi.

গণপরিবহনে প্রতিদিন বিভীষিকা

দৃশ্য ১:

ঢাকার একটি পাবলিক বাসে নারী, শিশু ও বৃদ্ধদের জন্য সংরক্ষিত ৯ টি আসনের তিনটিতেই বসে আছেন সামর্থ্যবান তিনজন পুরুষ, পাশে দাঁড়িয়ে আছে পরে বাসে ওঠা কলেজের ইউনিফর্ম পড়া এক কিশোরী , কাঁধে বইখাতা বোঝাই ভারী একটা ব্যাগ।
কিশোরী: ভাইয়া, এই সিটগুলো তো রিজার্ভড , একজন উঠবেন প্লিজ?
সিটে বসা একজন পুরুষ: ক্যান? আরো মানুষ তো দাড়ায়া আছে, তারা তো বসতে চায় না, আপনাদের সব কিছুই বেশি লাগে। পিছনের সিটে তো মহিলা বইসা আছে, তারা তো আমাদের সিট নষ্ট করছে। তাদের আগে উঠতে বলেন।
দাঁড়িয়ে থাকা পুরুষ ১: দাঁড়াইয়া যখন যাইতে পারেনই না, বাইর হন ক্যান ঘর থেইকা? মাইয়া মানুষের এতো পড়ালেহা কইরা লাভটা কি।
দাঁড়িয়ে থাকা পুরুষ ২: প্রধানমন্ত্রী আপনারা , শিক্ষায় বেশি আপনারা, চাকরিতে বেশি আপনারা, তারপরও আপনাদের জন্য কোটা লাগে, বাসে এক্সট্রা সিট লাগে। আপনাদের জন্য কিন্তু আজকাল পুরুষরা নির্যাতিত !
অগত্যা মেয়েটি এতগুলো মানুষের কটূক্তি শুনতে শুনতে নিশ্চুপ দাঁড়িয়ে রইলো এই ভারী সময় আর অনন্ত পথ শেষ হওয়ার অপেক্ষায়।


দৃশ্য ২:

সন্ধ্যা ছয়টা। বাসায় যেয়ে রান্না আর সন্তানের পড়াশোনার একরাশ চিন্তা মাথায় বাড়ি ফেরার জন্য বাসস্টপে অপেক্ষারত কর্মজীবী নারীর সামনে সেকেন্ডখানিকের জন্য একটি বাস এসে থামলো আর তাতে হুড়মুড় করে উঠে পড়লো বেশ কয়েকজন পুরুষ। ওই নারী যখন উঠতে যাবেন ঠিক তখনই কন্ট্রাক্টর সজোরে ধাক্কা দিয়ে সরিয়ে দিলো তাকে। সিট নাই, সিট নাই, মহিলা উঠানো যাইবো না। তারই ফেরার দরকার সবার আগে, কিন্তু এই পৃথিবীতে নারীর জন্য জায়গার বড় অভাব। ক্লান্ত আফরোজা তাকিয়ে রইলো গোধূলির নিয়ন আলোর ভেতর দিয়ে ছুটে আসা অন্য কোনো লাল সাদা আলোর সম্ভাবনার দিকে।


দৃশ্য ৩:

সিটিং বাস হলেও তিন চার ভদ্রলোক দাঁড়িয়ে। তাদের একজনের আবার শরীরে মোটে ব্যালেন্স নেই। একটু পর পর ঢলে পড়ছে পাশের সিটে বসে থাকা মেয়েটির দিকে, কোমর দিয়ে ধাক্কা দিচ্ছি মেয়েটির কাঁধে, হাতে। আড়স্ট হয়ে বসে থাকা মেয়েটি প্রানপণ চেষ্টা করছে নিজেকে আরো সরিয়ে নিতে, আরো গুটিয়ে নিতে। কপাল! জন্মান্তর থেকে বয়ে চলা শরীরটাই যে মস্ত ভুল!

স্কুল কিংবা কলেজে পড়া কিশোরী মেয়েটি, কর্মক্ষেত্রে ছোটা ঝকঝকে তরুণী, দায়িত্বশীল মাঝবয়স পেরিয়ে আসা আত্ববিশ্বাসী নারী কিংবা প্রতিদিন প্রাইভেট থেকে পাবলিক পরিসরে বেরিয়ে আসা এদেশের অধিকাংশ নারীর ভরসা এই পাবলিক ট্রান্সপোর্ট এর। জীবনপ্রক্রিয়ার অধিকাংশ জায়গার মতো এ জায়গাটিও তাকে দিতে পারে না একটুখানি স্বস্তি আর নিরাপত্তা। সকালে ঘরের সব কাজ সেরে কর্মক্ষেত্রের উদ্দেশ্যে বের হওয়া মেয়েটির চুলের শক্ত বাঁধনের চেয়েও শক্ত করে আঁকড়ে ধরা পক্ষপাতিত্বের সংস্কার ছাড়তে পারে না মানুষগুলো। বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় পড়ুয়া ছাত্রীটির একটু পরে শুরু হওয়া পরীক্ষার ভয়ের চেয়েও ঢের বড় হয়ে দাঁড়ায় পাশের সিটের বৃহত্তম অংশ নিয়ে বসে থাকা পুরুষটির ধরণ চলন কেমন হবে সেই ভয়।

আরো নানা ক্ষেত্রের মত পাবলিক ট্রান্সপোর্টে কিছু পুরুষ যে প্রশ্নগুলো প্রায়ই নারীদের করে থাকেন, হয়তো তারা সত্যিই সেগুলোর উত্তর জানেন না কিংবা কে জানে, হয়তো জেনেও না জানার ভাব করেন। কোটা ব্যবস্থা করা হয় সমতা আনার জন্য। কিছু সুবিধা বেশি দিয়ে কিছু নারীকে পাবলিক সেক্টরে নিয়ে এসে সমাজ নামক গাড়িটার দু’টি চাকা সমান করে গাড়িটা চালানোর চেষ্টা করা হয় মাত্র। এখনো এদেশের অধিকাংশ ক্ষেত্রে (বিশেষ করে উচ্চশিক্ষা ও উচ্চপদে) নারীরা পুরুষের এক চতুর্থাংশও নয়, অবিশ্বাস্য মনে হলেও একথাই সত্যি। আমি বলছি না, সব পুরুষই অসহোযোগী, এখনো অনেকেই আছেন যারা বাসে নারীদের দেখলে সম্মান করে উঠে দাঁড়ান, নিজের সিটটি ছেড়ে দেন। আসলে পুরুষের সত্যিকারের পৌরুষ- শক্তির যথাযথ ব্যবহারে, অপপ্রয়োগে নয়। নারীদের সাথে পুরুষদের সম্পর্কটা প্রতিযোগিতার নয়, সহযোগিতার। মানুষ হিসেবে নারীর অবস্থায় নিজেকে আসীন করে, নারীর চোখ দিয়ে দেখতে পারলে পুরুষরা নিশ্চয়ই বুঝতে পারবে জীবনটাকে নারীদের কিভাবে দেখতে হয়- নিশ্চয়ই বুঝবে পুরুষরা, মানুষ বলে কথা!

মাহমুদা হক হৃদিমা
ট্রেনিং অফিসার
চেঞ্জ এসোসিয়েটস লি:

লেখাটি প্রকাশ হয়েছে – “উইমেন চ্যাপ্টার” এ , তারিখ: ১৯ অক্টোবর, ২০১৭

The Key to a Good Relationship


Tasnova Rahman from Change Associates in Bangladesh sharing a few lessons in life

Do not be misled! I am not a love guru. But after some years of working on a range of content, concepts, and resources combined with delightful experiences post marriage, I have learned a few lessons that I thought I wanted to share.

First, the least expectations you have the merrier you are. This pointer is applicable for your spouse, in-laws and everyone you have in your life. Second, you can never be a pizza! What I dramatically mean is that only a pizza can cater to a family’s diverse needs and make everyone happy. An individual, no matter how angelic the person is, can never make everyone happy. So before stressing yourself out in your efforts just stop, think and prioritize. Keep a balance and keep yourself sane. My last and favorite pointer is – effective communication. Every good relationship, besides love and friendship, requires honest communication. Be it happiness or troubles (personal or related to that particular person/relationship) it is extremely important you communicate it. The time you stop talking is when all other mushrooms of doubt and boredom arise. The lack of effective communication brings distance in a relationship and this is why it is so core.

I got case studies, personal sharing from women (garment factory workers)who earned respect from her in-laws, made a position in her family where her opinion now matters. There are women and men (yes we convinced men!!) who are in their own way practicing active listening, noticing body language (non-verbal gesture). Most interestingly ‘I’ statements (where you express yourself logically, using ‘I’ without blaming or indicating the opposite person) is something I wasn’t expecting anyone to internalize it so well. These workers and management (surprised again? yes we convinced them too!!) are implementing this learned skill with their spouse, supervisor, in-laws. This indicates that we all care about our relationships, we want to be happy in it and we want to try to better things. And guess what? These life skills worked for them. It worked for me. Sometimes we just have to be little strategic but not manipulative!

Communication is a life skill that we do not acknowledge.

My father says those who do not talk or speak are like ‘jalebi’ (circuitous looking dessert) because they suppress themselves and complicate things. So, unwind your words and talk, listen carefully and strengthen your communication skills.

Tasnova Rahman is working on HERrespect with Change Associates Ltd for the What Works To Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls from the Global Programme

Picture credit: Rezwanul Haque

An abuser – then and now

Shakib Khan used to be an abuser at home. He had a bad reputation in his own family. He thought it was fun teasing girls in the street with his friends. He had no idea that that he was doing all kinds of violence till he attended HERrespect training. He realized how his reputation and relationship with family was tinted because of his ignorance and bad habits. He is trying to mend his behavior specially by helping his wife in her work whenever he can. He does not join his friends to tease girls on the road anymore. He confessed to the kinds of violence he committed before but he is trying to change himself slowly. What is more, he is also trying to change his friends positively from these bad habits.

Shakib Khan

Out of shell

Shahin Islam is one of the regular male worker trainees of a Bangladesh garment factory. From the very first training he was an attentive participant but he was very shy. During training 5, he started talking and sharing his experience about life in family as well as factory after HERrespect training. He confessed that he used to misbehave with his wife and he thought it is all right. Beating wife was believed to be normal as well for him. He realized how wrong he was after he got training from Change’s team. He considered his behavior was a sin towards his wife and these days he is working on his relation with her. According to Shahin, this is the starting. As a change maker he thinks he can also influence other husbands as well who are perpetrators like he was before.

Md. Shahin Islam
Packing Helper

Dealing with anger

HERrespect training has been incredibly useful in my life. At present, I can understand the women’s importance in the family as well as in the factory. I was very ill-tempered and would become angry for simple reason. Nowadays, when I tend to be angry, I remind myself of the training. I have noticed the impact in my own life. I used to hit my wife for simple reasons even when she would be late in cooking. But now I don’t do that. I try to understand her situation and would rather talk to her if I have any problem.

Quality Controller