Gazipur Rural Integrated Project

Gazipur is a mixed urban and rural area adjacent to Bangladesh's capital city, Dhaka. Many rural migrants (primarily Bengali with pockets of minority groups) have settled here to work in the garment factory industry. This project has been operating for 8 years.

  • Opportunities: Combines the regular rural model with some of the characteristics of an urban project, with some group members able to find work nearby.  The area does have better services than those in other Symbiosis project areas.
  • Challenges: The disparity between the opportunities for those with factory work and the rural and urban poor. Urban areas have a greater incidence of crime, drug use and prostitution.
  • Achievements: 27 groups with 540 members.



Nurjahan's Story

Nurjahan is a 48 year old woman living in the Gazipur district of Central Bangladesh. Nurjahan is married to Ranju, who is a rickshaw wala (rider) and was the only breadwinner of their small family. Nurjahan has had a difficult life – polio robbed her of the use of her legs in infancy, and as such she is greatly reliant on her husband to care not only for her, but to manage household chores and help look after their disabled son. The family do not own land and, with an unreliable income, have in the past had to take loans from others for daily needs, which they then cannot repay.

One day a Symbiosis field worker met Nurjahan in her village and invited her to join a functional education class with 19 other women. After eight months of dedicated study, Nurjahan can now read and write, and, with her peers, formed the Shapla Women’s Group, which is saving money every week from its members.

Because of their difficulty repaying loans in the past, Nurjahan was reluctant to take a loan from the group, even though over time she had saved a significant amount of money. With the encouragement of the Symbiosis field worker, Nurjahan took a loan for 6000 taka ($90) and established a small grocery shop. Nurjahan’s monthly income from the shop is now around $20, an amount which enables them to meet their needs and repay their loans. 

Nurjahan was one of the most marginalised in Bangladesh society - a poor, illiterate, disabled woman. Now, however, she is mentally strong and empowered, and rates this transformation as a great achievement in her life. She encourages her peers that everybody can change their fate if they wish. Symbiosis is making a difference in the lives of Bangladeshi's just like Nurjahan - one by one.