Daring to Face the Uncertainties

Eva Kebadile, University of Botswana

When I first decided to pursue an internship in Dhaka, Bangladesh for my Masters in Development Practice at Plli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) I had no idea how muh this experience would change my life. I did not anticipate the welcoming, hospitable families in Dhaka nor the professional and inspiring leaders at PKSF. By being open minded and resilient my first 3 weeks have been nothing but a reverie of excitement, learning, questioning and introspecting.

Bangladesh is a South Asian country that gained independence in 1971. Bangladesh, remains the most densely populated country in the world (165 million – population). Natural disasters in Bangladesh are rooted in the natre of its terrain, the physical geographic features, its long coastline and the tropical climate. Security, livelihoods and household vulnerability are intertwined with these adverse natural phenomena coupled with a volatile political system. Despite the challenges, the former East Pakistan’s economy is doing really well in reducing income poverty through micro financing and employment generation.

Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) an apex development organization for poverty alleviation through employment creation is implementing an IFAD financed project called Promoting Agricultural Commercialization and Enterprises (PACE). This is the project that I am attached with. The project provides financial services for microenterprises, makes value chain interventions in potential economic subsectors and gives technological support to the entrepreneurs. All the project activities are being implemented across the country through its Partner Organizations (POs) which are mostly NGO-MFIs. The project targeted to implement value chain interventions in 15 farm and 15 non-farm subsectors and provides technological supports to microentrepreneurs. The PACE project management intends to find out the effectiveness of the supports provided to its beneficiaries under its value chain development, technology and product adaptation components. My role is to carry out a survey to assess the effectiveness of the supports given to the beneficiaries through value chain interventions. The findings and recommendations will indicate the impact of the activities in reducing poverty.

My vision is to see my beloved Botswana, reduce poverty through employment generation and implementing sustainable Income Generating Activities that ensure sustainable livelihoods. All these I believe can be achieved through a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach such as the one being implemented by PKSF. As an aspiring development practitioner, being in Dhaka, PKSF every moment is precious as I am forever learning.

Hospitality is top notch. I am glad I chose this place for my internship. Dhaka is overwhelming for a mere village girl like myself. Everyone mind their own business. You do not exchange greetings with strangers. Keep to yourself. The rickshaw and CNG are the modes of transport to move around quickly, but all in the same lane as the bus and private vehicles, it is survival of the strongest driver! Passengers are always calm apart from myself in a rickshaw, I always hold on for dear life!

I am a foreigner and my hair style is quite interesting. Twist singles! The Bengali people always stare at my head, don’t mind the skin color I look like them if I put on the head wrap. Imagine riding a rickshaw and all eyes are on you. Feeling like miss universe, I wave and smile.

The Bengali cuisine has a fiery hot taste. Their meals always with a fiery paste, rice (staple food), vegetables and meat (fish, mutton, chicken rarely beef- tastes different). I love their cuisine, but not the spicy tastes, paratha, sabzi, maach bhuna, fried egg plant, dal (lentils) and singara (samosa) are my favorite. But my African taste buds just want the usual! Traditional home cooked without spices just salt and water in a 3-legged pot! How I wish for a mealie meal with seswaa! The fruits, mostly imported from Vietnam, Pakistan, China and Australia. They have seasonal fruits. Currently in summer only hard big fruits, amra, guava (big size), papaya and coconut among others. Adaptation is my language now!

I struggle with the dress code, ALL has to be covered! Coming from a country where “I wear what I want” has put me at a disadvantage. However, adaptability is the norm, all is covered with the Bengali dresses for women, sharee or salwar kameez! Quite an adjustment. I find the language easy to learn and pronounce. Being a quick learner really helps! But, I fear wandering around the city alone…foreigner tendencies! I am glad my host is always willing to move around

with me. I am hoping to visit some of the Universities, NGOs, private sector and exchange ideas as well as establish productive networking relationships. I look forward to a productive internship and upon returning to my home country, a ground breaking journey will begin.

This internship was made possible by IFAD.

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