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Discovering myself in work life

January 9th, 2019 by Posted in Education, Job, Uncategorized

Methila Sarker – one of our volunteers happily shared her experience, with us. She spent time with the TROSA team, played a huge part in the project with the hope to add some happiness to the lives of others. These are her thoughts on volunteering with Oxfam in Bangladesh.


Hi, I am Methila Sarker, an environmental science graduate from the North South University. I have been volunteering at Oxfam in Bangladesh for the last 6 months. My passion and dedication are to work towards environmental issues. I love to travel, explore, experience various cultures and discover different forms of life. I have always looked forward to do something which would bring changes where required, be it primarily focusing on our environment or the people living in it.

Now to talk about my work, let me begin my saying that I have always thought that rivers are blessings to the people who live along the river banks. Yet I had very little idea about how river causes misfortunes for those people as well. The first time I got to know about their sufferings was when I went to Kurigram with a group from Oxfam. We visited 8 different communities to conduct meetings, which is called Nodi Baithaks. This was really interesting for me since it was something new that I got to participate in. In those meetings, the community people discussed their problems and experiences regarding rivers and that continued until a solution was found. Those discussions, during my visit, gave me a very clear idea about how the people living near the river banks are fighting their battles against the rivers. In most of the communities, I was amazed to see how women were empowered in such remote areas and how everyone was working together to fight against the flow of the river and come out as survivors!

Another significant work I was involved in was Hilsa watch activity. In the past, all I knew about Hilsa was that being the national fish, Bangladesh has set up a regime to protect them by imposing a 22-day long ban during their breeding time. But I had no idea whatsoever, about the fishermen who suffer in the midst of all this. During the ban, a compensation is rewarded to the person who has fisherman identity card, but unfortunately, many real fishermen did not even receive the identity cards. Even the provided compensation does not match with their expenditure pattern. Therefore, they have to illegally catch fishes for which they are fined or their boats and nets are burned or are even sent to jail if caught. I am glad that I was able to participate in the event that took place during Human right’s day, talking about how the ‘Ban’ contributes to a violation of human rights of fishermen. Discussions between CSOs, grassroots and other relevant stakeholders took place about how inclusive and human rights complied practices can be done. There has been a lot of debate, but I honestly hope for this to continue and one day access and control of natural resources, as human rights issues for marginalised communities get acknowledged.

Lastly, I would like to talk about a noteworthy topic that is sand mining. I was not aware at all regarding sand mining being such a great problem in our country. As the population of Bangladesh has increased, there has been a demand in construction. And to continue with all these construction activities, sand is needed to make concrete as it requires less processing. In Bangladesh, illegal sand mining is increasing at an alarming rate because of the high price in the construction market. I was unaware of the fact that how the usages of sand are outstripping environmental and social effects. Illegal mining, obstruct the natural water flow, which causes rivers to realign their banks and threaten embankments, croplands and houses. Moreover, sand dredging is also causing biodiversity loss. Nevertheless, sounds produced from the dredging machines and sand bearer-trucks interrupt the peaceful nights for many people residing in the nearby areas. I still would not have known the effects of sand mining if I had not been assigned with the task of researching about it. There is not much work being done on this since it’s still a very sensitive issue, but still, I am looking forward to it.

I think I have talked enough about what I have done so far. Now, let me tell you about what I am taking away from all my time here at Oxfam. I was interested to work in Oxfam to explore my interests and enhance my existing skills. And while doing all this, I had also decided to do something good for the people. Since I have to do research, take meeting minutes and write reports, all these activities have given me a broader perspective regarding the topic. My communication skills got better as I had to keep in touch with the partners and also interact with the beneficiaries while working in the field. Travelling to different places to study the issues gave me in-depth ideas about how the marginalized communities suffer from the misfortunes of the river. Not just that, I even got to get a grip on how complex a system can work.

Now, moving on to my personal experience about the workplace: All my colleagues have been very cooperative and reliable. I love the fact that everyone here respects each other. People here follow the core values of Oxfam: Accountability, inclusiveness and empowerment. I really feel that women are empowered here; in most workplaces nowadays, women often become victims of harassment but that is not the case in Oxfam. Here, everyone respects each other no matter what your position or background is. Even the partners working with us like ‘Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK)’ and Center for Natural Resource Studies (CNRS) are performing outstandingly in their roles.

In conclusion, I want to say that Oxfam’s vision is similar to that of mine. Oxfam envisions a world without poverty, where people are valued and treated equally, where people enjoy their rights as citizens, and can influence decisions affecting their lives. And I wish people to have a better life, a sustainable livelihood and access to basic social services. Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to all my fellow colleagues and let you all know that this experience will help me a lot in my future activities.

(Author: Methila Sarker) 


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