Ashrayan project creates hope for homeless

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Published on March 22, 2023
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The homeless people who got their permanent abodes today under the Ashrayan-2 Project are now dreaming of becoming self-reliant as they have found a favorable environment for generating livelihood options - cultivating vegetable, rearing domestic animals and running small shops on their homesteads.

Since the Ashrayan Project is dubbed as 'Sheikh Hasina Model' in inclusive development, the project sites have been developed with an integrated approach ensuring all civic amenities, including electricity, drinking water, schools, mosques and graveyards and fallow khas lands for cultivation. 

"I am now running a small shop leaving behind my bagger life and leading a decent life," said a male beneficiary of Nayapara Ashrayan Project at Sreepur upazila in Gazipur who talked to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina virtually today when the premier handed over of 39,965 houses among landless and homeless families across the country. 

"Honorable Prime Minister, I am destitute since my birth as my father had no land. As I am a physically challenged person, I am receiving disability allowance. But I have to beg for leading my life," he said in his reaction joining the function through videoconferencing from Gazipur. 

The beneficiary said he quitted begging as the Ashrayan Project gave him social status, making him land owner with a semi-pucca two-room home wherein he is running the shop. 

"Now I am self-reliant. I offer prayers five times a day at a mosque built near the Ashrayan Project and pray for you (Prime Minister)," he said passionately. 

Manwara Begum, another beneficiary who joined the function virtually from the Uttarpar Ashrayan Project at Banaripara upazila in Barishal, recalled the miseries she had in the past and broke into tears, saying that she never had a shed over her head. 

"Pakistani occupation forces vandalised our home during the 1971 Liberation War. Since then, we were homeless. But a devastating flood made us landless again two decades ago as floodwater swallowed up our home," said Manwara Begum. 

Since then she was living in a makeshift shelter built on a khas land, but her house was evicted many times.
 
Recalling her glorious memory with incumbent Prime Minister 18 years ago, Monwara said, "I met you (Sheikh Hasina) and had dinner with you at your resident in Dhaka. After coming from your house, I was living at a house for 10 years. But my fate again compelled me to lead a vagabond life as musclemen forced me to leave that house". 

Then, she along with his son and elderly mother took shelter in an abandoned house of a hospital, where her mother and son died. 

"I was unfortunately forced to leave the hospital room too. Since then, there was no end to my plight. But my motherly Prime Minister gifted me a permanent abode today ending the untold suffering I faced during my vagabond life," Monwara said.
 
Expressing her gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, she invited the premier with an emotion-chocked voice to visit Banaripara and have a lunch with her. 

Husband abandoned Perveen Begum, who got the ownership of two decimals of land along a two-room identical abode at Noagaon Ashrayan Project at Gowainghat upazila in Sylhet, said she is now eyeing a better life as the home has given her a relief from spending a huge of money for home renovation. 

"Since we are living in a flood-prone region, our houses are naturally inundated at least three times per year due to flashflood. Apart from meeting daily food demand, our prime concern was to keep homes safe and livable," she said. 

However, Perveen was exposed to extreme vulnerability as her husband abandoned her along with three children three years ago. 

"To manage livelihood for my four-member family, I was forced to stop the studies of my 13-year-old son and engaged him in works as a child labour," said Perveen.

She is now dreaming of making her two younger sons educated. "Now my prime concern is to continue the studies of my two sons," she added.

Perveen said: "I felt jealousy of my neighbours, who have been living in a building. But Bangabandhu's daughter fulfilled my dream by giving me a semi-pucca house. I pray for her good health and long life so that she can serve the nation for long."
 
Like Monwara and Perveen, thousands of Ashrayan beneficiaries across the country are now dreaming of standing on their own feet with the blessing of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's shelter project. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today declared seven districts and 159 upazilas as homeless and landless free areas. Earlier, two districts and 52 upazilas of the country were declared as homeless-free areas.

With handing over of 39,365 more houses among homeless and landless people across the country today, the total number of distributed houses stood at 2,15,827 under Ashrayan-2 Project.