Md. Nurul Islam, a Business Owner
“I am enjoying life now because I am self-dependent,” says a happy and relieved, 30-year-old Md. Nurul Islam who is physically disabled.
“I can pay for the education of my two sons. The income from my grocery shop grows day by day. Thanks to Livelihoods Resource Centre (LRC) managed by Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID- Bangladesh), I am able to earn a livelihood respectfully today!”
My life before contacting the Livelihoods Resource Centre
I was born in Badarpur Union in Patuakhali district of Barisal division. I belong to a family of poor farmers and I was able and healthy. My father is Abdul Wahed and my mother Sahera Khatun. I completed my Grade 9 in school and decided to start working in a jute mill. Soon I got married and had 2 kids. My earnings were enough to look after my family.
I owned a motorbike and used it to travel to office. On the way I used to give people a lift on my bike. One day a car suddenly crashed into my bike. I was seriously injured. The local villagers admitted me into the Barisal Medical College Hospital. But my badly damaged right leg had to be amputated. I was just 26 years old then. My thoughts were in turmoil. I was the main breadwinner of my family. How was I to support my wife and 2 children with an amputated right leg? .
Nobody wanted to give me any kind of support. My relatives and friends would try and avoid me. I faced a lot of difficulties because of my disability. I could not participate in community programs like before. I could not interact with my community people. They were reluctant to offer me opportunities for livelihood as they assumed I would not be able to work as well as an able bodied person. My family suffered a lot. To feed my family I tried to take up some kind of living - vegetable selling, agricultural labour. But my options were limited. Most times I had to live on other people’s charity. It was the most frustrating period of my life. Finally I decided to open a small grocery shop in the village and stock it with small items like bread, biscuits, chips and sweets. Sadly I did not have enough money to stock my shop with fast selling items like bakery products which were in great demand in the local neighbourhood. My income was therefore limited.
Then LRC came into my life
At the lowest point of my life, LRC came and identified me under their ‘Access to Livelihood’ programme. They talked to me about the livelihood activities of their LRC project. They invited me to visit their office at Barisal. I went to their Barisal office along with a relative and met Asadul Haque, one of the LRC staff. He assured me that LRC would do something for me. I told him that it was my desire to increase the number of grocery items in my shop.
What LRC did
They provided me Foundation training to improve my Life skills as well as my skills in Communication, money management, budgeting, computers, and adapting to changing circumstances. They prepared a business plan for me. They remained in regular touch with me on cell phone. After the foundation training I was keen on expanding my shop. I tried to mobilise some funds from my community people but nobody was willing to fund my business. I shared my troubles with the LRC staff. We had a long discussion. They visited my grocery store. They decided to grant me BDT 5000 to expand my business.
Today, beaming with confidence and happiness, Nurul Islam says, “Now my life style has changed completely. I and my wife run the shop and earn enough to provide for our family’s needs and comforts. LRC has also provided me with a pair of crutches so I can move around easily. My life has changed not only because of the financial support but also because of the foundation skills training. I can manage many things now unlike before – I negotiate with people, manage my customers, control my finances, and can forecast market demand because of the foundation training. Thank you LRC! You have been such a great support to me when I was down and out!”
“We are happy to see Nurul Islam’s growing confidence and his increasing income,” say the LRC staff.
In Bangladesh, for people with disabilities, access to livelihood opportunities is not very encouraging. Lack of practical experience and vocational skills are an impediment, as also the lack the confidence to engage in financially gainful activities. LRCs therefore play a very important role. They are one-stop shops - providing training courses, career guidance and counselling, and opening employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This network of LRCs through implementing partners is made possible because of ‘The Access to Livelihoods’ program of Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) which is financially supported by Accenture.