Bidhan Dhali, a former bus driver, who lost both his legs 12 years ago is still a young man of about 35 years. He lived in a rented house in Kanial under Birisiri union in Durgapur Upazila, Netrokona with his wife Kalpona and two daughters who are 13 and 7 years old.
Bidhan was a respected highway bus driver. In 2006, an accident took a toll on both his legs. He survived but continues to carry the stigma of that accident. Life became a nightmare for Bidhan after that incident. He lost all his savings on his treatment, had no income and he had to depend on others’ mercy for a long time. He still continues to be assisted by some generous people around him.
Brother Frank, one of the devoted Christian priest from the Taije Brothers community, came forward to support Bidhan and made a small wooden shop in the Durgapur Bazar. Bidhan sold his gold chain and some other ornaments kept aside for his daughter to manage the capital to start the shop. He now earns a living selling betel nuts, biscuits, snacks and some stationery goods in his shop. His wife helps him run the shop. She walks with Bidhan every morning, helps him open the shop and returns again in the evening for closing. Sometimes she also sits in the shop to help Bidhan. The income from the store is not enough to lead a smooth life but they are content with the small things they have in their lives.
During the initial days, Bidhan’s sister had offered shelter to him and his family. After a while when he began earning again, he was able to move to a home he had rented from a local primary school teacher. Living in a rented house was not easy for him and considering his condition, the landlord had generously offered to keep the rent minimal. Although a blessing for Bidhan and his family, the shop was too far from his residence and he needed constant assistance moving to and from it.
Bidhan’s elder daughter studies and lives in Mymensing Baptist Mission Girls Hostel and visits them during her breaks. It was challenging for Bidhan to pay the house rent, support his daughter’s education, and provide for family healthcare and other expenses. During the month of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, and some other times of the year, sales go down and it becomes harder to meet the daily needs on top of the house rent.
Considering his situation, Habitat Bangladesh with the generous support from the 12 Presbyterian Churches in Illinois built a new home for Bidhan’s family. A generous man from his area had granted a piece of land with at a minimum cost which Bidhan prepared to build his own home on. This place is very close to his store and would make it easier for him to access the bazaar.
The home that was built had attached facilities and an entry ramp in order to allow Bidhan to overcome his physical limitations. It has been built with the tube-well, kitchen, and toilet attached so that the family might have better comfort and also ensuring accessibility for Bidhan.
“The income I made every month was not enough for me to rent a house. But I did not have options. It’s a blessing to have a home of our own which helps us lead a better life”, said Bidhan.
Now Bidhan does not need to travel a long way to reach his shop. His wife always keeps the house neat and clean and helps Bidhan attend the shop on time. ”My home is my biggest comfort zone. I live in peace here with my family. It saves a lot of money that I used to pay to my landlord earlier. I can afford better food, basic amenities, education for my daughter and my medical expenses”, Bidhan mentioned.
He sometimes becomes ill due to complications from his injuries and must bear additional medical expenses. “Earlier, we had to think twice before spending money on anything, no matter how important that issue was. Nevertheless, this beautiful home has given us the strength and ability to invest our money in potential sectors including medical treatment, our girl’s education or in our small business” Kalpona added.
It is his dream to ensure proper education for both of their girls and let them excel in life. With access to a safe and secure shelter, Bidhan Dhali hopes to regain the life he dreamt of prior to the accident. “I am so thankful to Habitat Bangladesh and the donors for making my dream come true. A home is a place where everyone wants to belong to at the end of the day. I am so blessed that Habitat made this happen for me. I wish them all the best and pray that many people like me will transform their lives through Habitat Bangladesh”, Bidhan quoted. Bidhan has taken a loan after completion of his house to enclose additional space but has not yet completed the brick plastering. Bidhan continues to be courageous in the face of the challenges in his life and with this support from Habitat he dreams of independence and peace. Bidhan’s story is one of the many examples of how Habitat builds strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.