Sirajgonj – The Village
In the village we spent most of our time visiting Grameen loan recipients and learning about how Grameen has changed their lives. We spoke with a new borrower, an experienced borrower, a student loan recipient and a struggling member. We also spoke with the bank manager and the area manager. We also spent a good amount of time just hanging out outside the bank where villagers would stop by because they heard foreigners were in town. We stayed at the bank branch in two rooms – no A/C (mosquito nets a must), giant roaches (and I mean giant), spiders, geckos and ONLY squat toilets. We were lucky, one of the other groups didn’t have showers and had to use a bucket on the roof!
Oftentimes, we would be hanging out in our room after dinner, playing a card game and several children would sneak upstairs and get us to come outside.
When we arrived outside, 20 or more people would be in the yard waiting to see us and teach us some Bangla phrases and the children would beg to have their pictures taken – mostly so that they could see it on the camera screen. We also visited a local primary school where the children sang songs and showed off their English skills.
We left the village for the fisheries by CNG – commonly known in other parts of the world as baby taxis or tuk tuks! The CNGs were a perfect way to drive through the country. I have to credit our interpreter, Younus, our cook, Rihanna (and her son Mushit), and the bank messenger with making our stay at the village so wonderful.