About DAKBHANGA VZW
Rita tells the Dakbhanga story.
From 1997 until 2004, I worked for the British NGO Concern Universal in basic health projects in southern Bangladesh.
We organised community groups in de villages of the project area. In Dakbhanga, one of the villages, none of the 500 inhabitants could read or write. Until this day, Dakbhanga can only be reached by the river and there is no electricity.
At the request of some of the fathers, a school was founded and a first year started at the Quran school next to the mosque in 1998. I was asked to lend a helping hand, because the project only had a budget for healthcare, not for education.
The staff I worked with promised to find teachers who would move to the village.
I asked family and friends to help.
Later on the municipal council for development cooperation (GROS) and the province of Belgian Limburg also contributed.
The existing bamboo construction was upgraded and extended.
The local people helped to erect a real school building. All materials had to be transported by little boats. Members of the school committee, together with the fathers, offloaded the boats, dug the foundations and executed other groundworks.
In 2001, VZW Dakbhanga was founded in Belgium to collect funds for the continued existence of the schools.
2000 saw the beginning of the first year in Moishkum, the starting point of the boats to Dakbhanga. Once again, it were the local people who wanted a school and the corrugated iron roof building of the Quran school became the first village school. Classes continued there until the start of 2007, when the second school opened in Moishkum.
This school has easier access because it is on a major road.
There are currently two schools with a nursery class and five primary school years each, totalling almost 500 pupils in January 2018.
2008 was another milestone, with the first four pupils obtaining their lower secondary school diploma.
Before I left Bangladesh in 2004, a local NGO Dakbhanga was founded according to Bangladeshi legislation. An office was rented and equipped. The NGO has to produce five-year plans and an annual budget. After approval by the NGO Office in Dhaka, the agreed budget may be transferred to the appropriate account.
The third five-year plan is currently running.
The project is subject to an annual evaluation and to auditing by an accounting firm.
The Project Coordinator is assisted by an Administrative Officer.
The Country Representative and the Assistant Country Representative play an advisory role. They regularly visit the project and attend the management meetings.
The relations with the local authorities are excellent and it is heart-warming to see how motivated the teachers and the parental committees are.
The project is completely run by local people.