Our comprehensive approach to poverty eradication identifies families near starvation and nurtures them through a process. It begins with addressing their basic needs first - determining their immediate needs to stabilize their HOME. We provide primary EDUCATION for their children. We improve their HEALTH through access to an affordable integrated healthcare system. And we provide the tools, resources, education and training to develop economic opportunities - or WORK - for the family to lift themselves out of poverty.
Once a social worker has identified a family in despair, they determine what their immediate needs are to stabilize their home, beginning with food. A family cannot focus on education and economic opportunities if they are starving.
Clean drinking water and sanitation are huge problems for most of the developing world. Contaminated water causes chronic sickness. Sickness affects their ability to work. Not working causes loss of income. In rural Bangladesh, the problem is more serious due to the density of their population. Ponds and rivers are used by animals and humans alike for bathing, drinking and washing, and are highly contaminated by bacteria, human and animal waste. A solution we provide is the installation of household sanitary latrines for our families and a clean water well for the village if needed.
We help families repair their homes so they remain dry and stable. Homes are made from natural materials at hand which can deteriorate during the rainy season.
To prepare families for work, we also must address any health issues that is preventing them from working. Medical services are subsidized for the poorest families. The average cost of stabilizing an extremely poor family in rural Bangladesh is typically less than $100.
Illiteracy keeps generations of Bangladeshi children tied to the poverty of their parents. Without an education, they are destined to work at low paying jobs or manual labor all of their lives. Our Child Development Centers are changing that.
We provide two years of primary education (1st and 2nd grade) to 30 children per school and base the curriculum on government school standards which includes learning Bangla, English, math and social studies, and adds music, dancing, art, poetry and exercise for a more well-rounded education. Children learn to respect others, work together and develop imagination.
Education is a partnership with the village and the parents of our students. The village provides a hut, and we hire and train women from the area to teach. All workbooks and supplies are provided and a commitment is made by the mothers of our students to prepare a nutritious snack or meal each day. The school is four hours a day, six days a week, and is year round. This allows children to help in the fields and work at other income-producing jobs to help provide food for the evening meal. The cost of providing this education to the children is only $66 per child per year for a total of $2,000 per school of 30 children. Funding the cost of the entire two year school ($4,000) gives the donor naming rights.
Assessments given by the government schools at the beginning of 3rd grade have indicated the quality of the education provided with the majority of our students scoring higher than others. Ten percent of the children who complete the two years at one of our Child Development Centers are unable to make the transition to the free government schools because their families are too poor to afford the $6.00 annual fee charged for uniforms and school books. Our Continuing Education Fund ensures that every child has the opportunity to continue their education.
Access to healthcare is important to families in Bangladesh in order to maximize their ability to work and provide for their families. Existing healthcare facilities are often too expensive and too far away for most people to use. PSDI is currently able to provide some healthcare in the areas they serve through two collaborations.
A collaboration was formed between PSDI, the Poverty Eradication Program in Bangladesh, local Bangladeshi people and the Japanese government to build a hospital in a rural area in Netrokona in 2015. The hospital is equipped with an outpatient department, rooms for six beds, doctor and staff rooms, a dispensary and a pathological laboratory. It is open seven days a week. The hospital is serving 27 surrounding villages and 25,000 people. They are currently seeing an average of 670 patients a month with that number increasing month to month as villagers become accustom to the services being available.
Vitamin Angels, a non-profit organization in California, worked with PSDI to provide Vitamin A, multivitamins for children and pregnant women as well as Albendazole for children. This is a deworming medicine to ensure children can absorb the Vitamin A into their systems. Without these vitamins, children can lose their eyesight before the age of 5. We have served over 40,000 women and children through Vitamin Angels.
Future plans include the reopening of four clinics in the areas we serve in the coming years. These clinics will be staffed with a doctor, paramedic and trained social workers who will provide medical assistance outreach in the areas they serve. Each clinic will serve hundreds of families, both poor and middle class. A sliding fee scale is used so that the extreme poor can afford care while fees from the middle class help to offset future costs.
Economic opportunities typically target women in the household to allow them to earn additional income to support her family. Economic opportunities can be in the form of a small business such as tailoring, embroidery or a small shop or can be in the form of small cottage industries where groups of women work together and combine their skills to produce enough inventory to be financially successful. Examples of these industries are silk worm rearing, garment making and making quilts, mosquito nets and bedding.
Other types of economic opportunities include:
Forestation programs, including the planting and caring for a plot of trees at their homestead or on the roadsides; in the roadside program the family receives 60% of the profits from selling the wood when matured, the government receives 20% for the use of their land, and we receive 20% to reinvest in the program
Agriculture programs such as planting vegetables, fruit and other crops; creating fish ponds and fisheries; raising livestock and/or poultry; families keep some of what they grow and raise to consume and sell the rest at local markets
Women are taught to understand finance, learning how to grow their assets and how to save money. Once families show responsibility and success in acquiring and maintaining their assets, they have availability to small loans to grow their assets and speed up their uplift out of poverty. Providing responsible microcredit loans is critical to poverty eradication.
A wide variety of programs and strategies are employed in order to empower the poor and eradicate poverty from their lives and their local areas. We support democracy in our relationship to the poor by treating everyone equally. This especially includes respecting women's rights and involving them in the process and working with local people and institutions in this commitment to poverty eradication.