‘Bangladesh has come a long way’: people of Dhaka on half a century of independence
‘I thought I’d get a good job but instead I had to ride rickshaws’
Habibur Rahman, 48, rickshaw rider
His family lost their land in Khulna, the third-largest city in Bangladesh, plunging them into financial problems that pushed Habibur to leave for the capital, Dhaka, at the age of 18 to find work. He lives in the Kalyanpur slum.
“I thought I’d get a good job but instead I had to ride rickshaws or work as a day labourer and I’m still doing that today. After independence there was so little work in towns and villages, and so many struggled for money, so when we look back on these 50 years, we see that Bangladesh has come a long way.
“People have been employed, mostly in Dhaka but also in the villages. There’s been a lot of development on the roads. Bangladesh is moving forward on the path to prosperity but the big problem is that everything is centred around the capital.”
‘Once, women could rarely go out but now many work outside’
Shahida Begum, 65, domestic worker
A relatively comfortable rural existence ended nine years ago for Shahida Begum when her village was flooded and her family had to go to Dhaka to find work.
“Everything in Bangladesh has improved now, compared with before. Everyone has a mobile in their hands – I can talk to whoever I want to. I hear on the TV news they call it Digital Bangladesh. Once, women could rarely go out but now many women work outside. Husband and wife earn together to move the family forward.
“The problem is villages are better than cities, yet we are forced to come from the village to the city. The village has abundant resources and they need to be utilised. People have to take the initiative to return to the village. I want everyone to be able to make a living by working in their own village.”
‘Climate shocks are an escalating threat’
Sohara Mehroze Shachi, student
Sohara Mehroze Shachi is studying for a master’s degree in environmental change and management, focused on the climate crisis, after years working in the development sector.