This blog was written by Hannah Taylor, a field intern with HKI Bangladesh.
I recently joined the HKI Bangladesh team as a Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition intern as part of my Masters of Public Health program with Columbia University. Like any start to a new adventure in life, I set goals for what I hoped to accomplish for myself and for the team, and I made plans for my future. During a visit to HKI’s Project Laser Beam in the Southern regions of Bangladesh, I found a few women who were also making big plans for their future and looking to learn from HKI as well.
Project Laser Beam, a Homestead Food Production program working with 4,800 women in Sathkira district, helps women increase the availability of a diverse selection of vegetables through cultivation of home gardens. The program includes regular sessions with all women and their families on hygienic practices and gender sensitivity, and basic nutrition education to promote dietary diversity. Beneficiaries of the program also receive support to market excess produce from their gardens subsequently increasing household incomes.
I had the opportunity to talk with several beneficiaries of the program and visit their homestead gardens. Many of women who have participated in the program since the beginning noted an income increase of nearly 2,000 taka (~$25) from selling their garden’s surplus. As we walked through the homesteads, each beneficiary so proud to show me their favorite vegetables, their newly constructed chicken sheds and their washing stations created outside of their kitchens for hand washing before preparing food and eating, the women shared with me their plans for the future.
They each told me of their dreams to one day own a cow and how they were using the lessons from Project Laser Beam to reach their goal. Several of the women used their additional earn income from their homesteads to purchase chickens or ducks. Beneficiaries each participated in a session on improved methods in poultry rearing through Project Laser Beam. With greater poultry yield, they can sell the eggs and the chickens for additional income.
One beneficiary noted, “From my vegetable garden, I was able to purchase some chickens. I am rearing my chickens and later, I will sell them and I hope to buy a cow. At that point, I will be a powerful woman who owns a cow, some chickens and has her own household activities. Right now, I am on the way to making my dream come true.”
As I look forward onto my time in Bangladesh and plan for the future, I hope that I can learn from HKI’s many programs, and be on the way to making my dreams come true, too. Be sure to check out HKI’s Facebook page and @HKIintern #HKIBangladesh on Twitter for regular updates from the field!