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Helen Keller International

Partnership with Indigenous Peoples

In Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts, USAID’s Sustainable Agriculture and Production Linked to Improved Nutrition Status, Resilience and Gender Equity (SAPLING) project (implemented by Helen Keller International) builds bonds with ethnic minorities and the more recent Bengali1 settlers through business. SAPLING introduced new agricultural techniques and crops, improved business skills, and then helped build relationships between ethnic producers and Bengali buyers. These market networks are mutually beneficial — growing incomes, not just for the seller and buyer, but also linking a dozen different diverse ethnic groups and settlers tomake this area more stable and more prosperous. We also linked these ethnic groups with national companies. For example, with our support, tribes such as the Bawm, Mro, and Tripura are growing coffee and selling it to North End, a large Bangladesh coffee chain, a business linkage that will grow sustainably for the long-term.

Learn more about the Mission.

Indigenous Voices and Program Highlights

Lelung Khumi, who, with his son, volunteered to demonstrate hand washing in Khumi language

USAID salutes fathers like Lelung Khumi, who, with his son, volunteered to demonstrate hand washing in Khumi language (one of the many languages spoken in Bandarban). Lelung worked with USAID’s SAPLING project as a Learning Corps Program Coordinator, and is a leader in his community - helping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Lelung is working on a Khumi dictionary, a valuable cultural contribution to the Khumi community. Lelung's advocacy has also inspired Khumi children to pursue higher education and the Bandarban Hill District Council to provide stipend and lodging to support the children.  We offer gratitude to all fathers, who serve as great role models.

Ashroi Kendra
Save the Children

Baishpari Government Primary School (GPS) is situated in a remote village in Naikhongchhari Upazila, Bandarban. Members of local ethnic groups and Bengali people are living in the village. The Ashroi Kendra project started repair and refurbishment work in this school. Individuals in the community are happy to see that due to the work of the USAID-funded Ashroi Kendra project, their school is changing its function and look. Citizens expressed their satisfaction with the ongoing work. On September 12, 2020, a total of 37 people were attending a three-day training on disaster risk reduction (DRR), education continuity, and disaster preparedness plans at Baishpari GPS. During the opening session of the training event, Union Parishad members, School Management Committee (SMC) members, and the head teacher showed their appreciation for Ashroi Kendra activities.

Kyahlaching Tanchangya, SMC Vice-President and a representative of the Tanchangya community, said: “Thank you [USAID, Save the Children and Green Hill] for your activities to support improving functionality of the school and improving the physical facility to make the school function as a disaster shelter including DRR and preparedness training. We expect that you will continue working with our school and children and SMC and others are with you.”

Learn more about Ashroi Kendra.

Repair and Refurbishment works of Sonaichori Government Primary School in Naikhanchori Upazila, Bandarban started in June 2020
Save the Children

In June 2020, repair and refurbishment of the Sonaichori Government Primary School in Naikhanchori Upazila, Bandarban began. The work is done in compliance with Bangladesh’s Fourth Primary Education Development Programme guidelines and inform how the work will be carried out. The old structure will be transformed into a Multi-Purpose Cyclone Shelter. The USAID-funded Ashroi Kendra project will install solar power systems, lights, fans, wash blocks, drinking water facilities, and basins for hand washing. The approach road will be constructed so that the children can reach the school safely. The project will also provide child-friendly furniture. A flower garden is planned to intensify the beauty of the school grounds so that the children can study in a joyful environment. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic situation, USAID’s implementing partner, Save the Children staff are continuing to work on these changes.

“Our School was in very fragile condition. Save the Children has started repairing and refurbishing activities to improve the school since [2020] and this work is continuing. The quality of their work is very good. By this time, the outlook of the school has become far better and beautiful. I am thanking Save the Children for its success,” said Kauan Marma, President, School Management Committee, Sonaichari Government Primary School, and a representative of the Marma community, Naikhoncchari, Bandarban.

Learn more about Ashroi Kendra and Save the Children.

1Indigenous Peoples are known by different names in different places. The terms “hill people,” “aboriginal,” “First Nations,” “scheduled tribes,” “natives,” “ethnic minorities,” “agro-pastoralists,” “pastoralists,” etc. all describe Indigenous Peoples. To accommodate this diversity, USAID endeavors to align our terminology to the self-determined identities of the communities. For more information, please review USAID’s Policy on Promoting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Last updated: February 03, 2021

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