Josna lives in Rehaishuriber Village in the district of Sirajganj. Her husband, Rafiqul Islam, works as a hardware mechanic. They have three daughters – Sathi, Shapla, Suraiya – and one son, Abdullah.
Josna who is now 40 years old, was married when she was only 14 years old and quickly had to face life’s hardships. Living on the Jamuna River, she and her husband had to relocate their house more than seven times during the wet season as erosion continued to encroach on their land.
Three years after they married, Josna and her husband went to Dhaka to work in a garments factory where they worked for 10 years.
Josna gave birth to two of her daughters which naturally caused an increase in the family’s expenses. Josna and her husband decided to return to their village home, as it was difficult for them to maintain family needs in the densely populated city of Dhaka.
Without an income when they returned home, Josna and her husband fell into deeper poverty. They could not provide for an education for their children and their basic needs were not being met.
Josna became interested in the activities of Symbiosis after hearing about it from the staff who came to her village toform a Functional Education Group among the women in 2016. When she told Rafiqul about the opportunity he encouraged her to get involved.
With 19 other women Josna began her functional education before they formed Kanak Women’s Group together.
They started by saving Tk. 10 per week in the group savings. The amount has since increased to Tk. 50. The total group savings now is an impressive Tk. 185000 (AUD$3000).
Through her education course, Josna also became aware of emerging social, health and environmental issues in her community. She also gained knowledge about income generating options.
After a few months and with the support of Rafiqul, Josna took a loan of Tk. 10,000 from the group savings to begin her agricultural career.
With the first loan she bought a female calf which would eventually give birth
to its own calf enabling Josna to sell milk from the cow. Josna was able to save Tk. 10,000 from milk sales!
She then took another loan from the group savings and bought a bull and also
started to rear chicken and goats on their small area of land.
Josna was able to repay her loans and continue to contribute to the family’s income. Josna now brings in an incredible Tk. 18000-20000 each month (AUD$290 – $300): this is twice the average wage she might have received as a worker in a garment factory!