River Gypsy (Bedey) Sandar Development Project

This project is based in Jhenaigati and Sherpur city, sub-districts in the Sherpur district of central Bangladesh, close to the Indian border. It has been operating for 12 years and works with the Nomadic Gypsy and peddler communities on the fringes of the mainstream society.

  • Opportunities: Steady consistent presence encourages greater engagement and development.
  • Challenges: Nomadic nature. Low status of women and early marriage.
  • Achievements: 28 groups with 469 members. Of these groups, 21 are sustainable, requiring only minimal supervision by Symbiosis staff.


Rahela's Story


Rahela, her husband, and their three children are River Gypsies, known in Bangladesh as Bedey. Rahela, who was illiterate, did not know how to contribute to the meagre income of her family, and thus they struggled in poverty. When Rahela joined a Symbiosis group, things began to change. After learning to read and joining the ‘Maya Women’s Group’ Rahela learned more about ways she could bring more financial security to her family. After some training, Rahela took an interest free loan of 5000 taka from the Project’s small enterprise program to start a cloth sale business. She now earns 150 to 200Tk (around $2) each day from her business, and brings in more money by selling the papaya and vegetables she tends on their small plot of land. Rahela’s children are now going to school and her family has more financial security because of her efforts and the support of Symbiosis.