A famous quote of medieval poet Bharat Chandra Roy Gunakor was, “May my children live nourished”. The famous quote has become a universal one now-a-days. Every parent wants his/her children to be happy and well. The poor father of a daughter was no exception in this. His name was Abdul Halim Mandal. Abdul Halim Mandal, who lived in Kachuadanga village near Tangail town, arranged marriage for his juvenile daughter Shilpi Begum at the age of only 13-14, owing to either illiteracy or unconsciousness but due to poverty or opportunity of dowry-less marriage.
Soon, the father of Shilpi passed away and started his journey to time without end after giving his daughter’s hand to another, confining her golden days of education owing to poverty. But the daughter has overcome poverty now. She can clearly recall her days of untimely marriage or her memories of watching fox in a moonlit night through her worn-out house or creepy memories of those adverse times of deep dark nights listening to the barking of fox “Huwa Huwa”. Shilpi is self-reliant now. She is living a happy life with her children and husband. But the painful memory of not educating herself before marriage still strikes her in the inner part of the heart.
We are presenting the cover story of SSS Bulletin, “Well-won Family by the Touch of Shilpi” with the life-story of today’s self-dependent Shilpi, her growing up, struggle, building relationship with SSS and other diversified activities.
Childhood and Growing Up: Shilpi got married at a very tender age, even before crossing the restless childhood of 13 or 14 years of age. She was not even depressed during her marriage as she still did not know the meaning of it well. Although Shilpi could not remember her date of marriage, she could clearly recall the devastating flood of 1988 that broke out just before her marriage. The main reason behind Shilpi’s early marriage was that it was dowry-less. Perhaps her poor father felt relieved owing to arranging a dowry-less marriage for her. That is why Shilpi’s education could not go so far. She could read only up to class five. Shilpi had a strong desire to get a decent job after completing her study. Many of her classmates got higher education. But her willingness to read and write was lost in darkness owing to her father’s poverty.
Starting Married Life: Shilpi is quite happy with her 27 years of married life holding the hand of her uncomplicated husband Ujir Uddin. Although she could not understand family life at the time of her premature marriage, she never felt lonely in the joint family of Ujir Uddin with his six brothers. Shipi Begum was beloved sister-in-law to them for about 18 years, almost similar to the myth “Santh Bhai Champa”. At a time, all the brothers of Ujir Uddin went abroad. His father also died during this time. The joint family became separated gradually. Ujir Uddin ran a grocery shop. It was hard for him to lead his family only on this shop.
Shilpi told that the condition of her house was not so well. It is so true that they could watch foxes clearly from the inside of their house. The barking of foxes made them frightened. She wished to have a good environment, a better house to live in and financial sufficiency. But Shilpi never lost her hope. In this condition, she determined to make a turnaround anyhow.
Establishing Relationship with SSS: Shilpi realized that the only income from her husband’s grocery shop was not sufficient to run their family properly. Although it might meet the family expenses, the income could not fulfill the educational needs of their children. They could not even build a decent house. With this, their children would never grow up in a healthy environment.
So, considering the overall socio-economic condition of her family, she thought deeply about the importance of the financial sufficiency for the livelihood development of her family. In the meantime, she contacted with the local Charabari branch of SSS and became a group member of the same.
Income Generating Activities: In 2011, Shilpi Begum received credit of Tk. 40,000 from SSS. She bought a cow with the money. A few months later, the cow gave birth to a calf. All members of the family together took care of both the cow and the calf. They kept on accelerating their income by selling milk every day. They were also repaying credit installments from the money and doing savings.
Then Shilpi again took credit of Tk. 60,000 from SSS in 2012. She sold the calf and bought a bigger cow with Tk. 80,000. Within few months’ interval, both the cows gave birth to two separate calves. Shilpi kept on saving money from selling cow milk. This time, her target was to start a shop near the road in front of her house.
Shilpi achieved her desired target at last. In 2013, Shilpi took credit of Tk. 60,000 once again from SSS. According to her goal, she started a grocery shop near the road in front of her house with Tk. 2,00,000 including the money from selling two calves and her saved money from selling milk. Her husband Ujir Uddin ran the shop and sold groceries. Sometimes her son Tushar too worked in the shop. The shop was running very well and Shilpi kept on repaying her credit with regular installments.
Shilpi received credit of one lac ten thousand taka from SSS one more time in 2015. This time, she opted for buying two oxen. According to her desire, she bought two oxen with one lac taka. She along with her husband and son were taking care of those oxen. Within few months, she sold both the oxen with two lac and five thousand taka. Activities of her shop were also running very well. She was saving money according to her own plan along with maintaining her children’s educational expenses, family expenses and repaying credit installments of SSS. In 2015, Shilp