Rekha Akhter, a 35 year old single mother, struggling through life. Abandoned 7 years ago by her husband, the only earning member, she was forced to seek shelter with her father.
He gave her a small piece of land and built a small hut in the village Rouhartak at Dhamrai, where she lived with her four children, Dolna (13), Asiya (10), and the twins Dilruba (8) and Md. Halim (8). Left to fend for herself and with five mouths to feed, Rekha worked as a day laborer, washing dishes and utensils at a decorator shop. Work opportunities, especially for Rekha were very limited in this village, and she barely managed to earn BDT 2500 ($30) every month. Her income was so meagre that there have been days where she could only manage a single meal for her family. Even in her toughest days, she was determined not to compromise with her children’s education. All of her four children went to school, the eldest was in class 7, the second daughter studied in class 4, and the twins went to class 1. Through support from relatives and neighbours, she somehow managed to keep them all in school.
Rekha’s parents were the only people to offer the least possible support for food and shelter during her tough time. Her inadequate housing made them vulnerable to rain, storms, robberies and any other natural disasters. The children could not concentrate on their studies because of the congested and unhealthy environment. “I became helpless with my four children when my husband left us and remarried. I could not provide food, shelter or any other basic needs for them. I have faced life’s cruelty with my young children” Rekha mourned, but she never let go of her dream of living happily with her children.
In December 2016, a lady from Rekha’s neighborhood who had previously received a new house from Habitat Bangladesh, advised her to seek help for house renovation from the organization. Through contacting her local CBO office, Rekha came to know that Habitat Bangladesh, under its KOICA funded project will be providing low cost houses free of cost as shelter for the poor. Rekha applied for a house and after proper invistigation, Habitat Bangladesh chose her as one of the recipients of a brand new house. In July 2017, Rekha shifted to her new house with her children. On that day Rekha’s face glowed with happiness and she said “Habitat Bangladesh has shown me the way to live life anew and I am very happy. I am no longer sad. I can live in peace with my children. I now have a self-confidence that has been born simply through the work and assistance of Habitat Bangladesh”.
This new house has brought new hopes and aspirations to their lives, which was something seemingly impossible in the past. Her children can now study and live comfortably. They now have the courage to hope that their untold dreams will be fulfilled one day. They rejoice in seeing their mother’s beaming smile, all signs of grief erased. The new home offers them the opportunity to save some money as they no longer have to spend on reparations. Rekha can now grow vegetables in front of her home ensuring greater food security. The new home has brought stability into their lives and has opened new doors to explore the life Rekha and her children can now have.