BRAC stands by people for 50 years

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed with students of BRAC School.Courtesy, BRAC

After gaining independence, the war-torn Bangladesh was mired in various crises. It was at that time that Sir Fazle Hasan Abed felt an obligation to take such a country forward and dreamt of doing something big. One year later, he established Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in Shalla of Sunamganj to provide reliefs to the people coming back from India and rehabilitate them. That was the beginning; the work is still going on to overcome the various crises of the backward people of the society.

BRAC has reached its ‘peak’ following the path of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s dream . The organisation is working for the development of the people in 10 countries of the world through their various programmes. Today marks the 50 years of BRAC, which has been recognised as the world’s top NGO for seven consecutive years. BRAC is now not just a development agency only. Rather, it is a large organisation with a wide range of initiatives including banks, university and social businesses.

A special event has been organised at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka at 6.00pm to mark the golden jubilee of the organisation.

According to the people concerned, BRAC started its activities extensively by controlling diarrhoea, one of the major reasons of infant mortality in the early eighties. Some of the noteworthy works of BRAC include increasing the use of saline, increasing the use of vitamin A tablets, vaccination programmes, starting the use of anthelmintics and so on.

BRAC has also got involved in safe delivery service. Apart from that BRAC was the first organisation to launch a community-based pilot project to control tuberculosis (TB).

Besides, BRAC has an enormous contribution to the education of the children. There are a total of 14,255,587 students under different education programmes of BRAC stretching from primary to secondary level. Now BRAC is stressing on the promotion of quality education.

Around 110 million people received the health services of BRAC in the last five decades. The BRAC’s bright presence in the health sector is due to its health, nutrition and population programmes. The organisation emphasised on pregnant women, lactating mothers, adolescents, children under the age of five and the disabled. Priority was given to poor and disadvantaged people.

Asked how he evaluates BRAC on its golden jubilee, Asif Saleh, executive director of the organisation, told Prothom Alo on Sunday that BRAC, founded by Sir Fazle Hassan Abed, is working side by side with the government to address various social and economic problems. The organisation has established banks to provide financial services, universities to ensure quality education and Aarong to help the backward entrepreneurs. The organisation is also getting involved in new activities.

Mentioning that a part of the profits from these organisations are being spent in the service of people, Asif Saleh further said BRAC International's journey began in 2002 with the launch of its programme in Afghanistan. Now the organisation is directly operating in 10 countries. There are more than 15,000 workers and volunteers of BRAC worldwide at the moment.

BRAC has also played a significant role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The organisation is still conducting various programmes in this regard including raising awareness, conducting booths across the country to collect samples for coronavirus test and antigen testing. It has distributed millions of masks free of cost. BRAC has also stood by the Rohingya community in various ways.

Besides, the organisation is conducting micro-credit programmes to develop the life standards of the poor and the destitute. Apart from that, BRAC started businesses to develop and empower women. BRAC has taken several initiatives in this regard including BRAC Dairy, BRAC Fisheries and BRAC Nursery.

Hossain Zillur Rahman, chairperson of BRAC's governing body, thinks that all the activities of BRAC have added a different dimension to the concept of conventional NGO or non-governmental organisations. Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said, BRAC is a great example that non-government organisations can play a specific and fruitful role in development and social work alongside the government.