I recently had the pleasure of re-visiting Bangladesh. I had been there for the first time 7 years ago and I was very much impressed by the kindness and jollity of its people. It is one of the most populous countries in the world and living conditions are far from excellent. However, the positive attitude of its inhabitants is very striking and they are always very curious and happy to see a foreigner and to strike up a conversation.
The country is making progress little by little and the people are eager to learn and discover the world. What I found most remarkable and a totally new experience was the fact that so many people own a mobile phone nowadays (they are very cheap, as are connections) and we, foreigners, are constantly being photographed or interviewed and recorded. It is something I have never experienced before and it takes some time to adjust to this topsy- turvy world!
I was therefore dying to learn how the YouBridge project was developing in the capital, Dhaka. I interviewed some 10 students of ages ranging from 15 to 21. They each have a laptop at their disposal donated by YB. They all have the same reason for coming here, which they do several days a week: they want to learn how to work with a computer and apply this knowledge in their daily lives. They learn the basic principles of hardware and software, how to use Word, PowerPoint, Excel and the internet. The two teachers are doing this free of charge: it’s a project they believe in.
The impact on the students’ future is immense: in the meantime, about 100 young people have been able to make a (new) start in life thanks to what they have learned in the YB computer class. It has given them job and career opportunities which they otherwise would never have had, they urge their friends to come and learn and open up their world and they become creative in how they run their own little shops for instance; – with the help of a computer, they can even think of expanding their business!
The YouBridge computer class is held in the same humble building as the remarkable Asha fair trade project www.ashaprojects.be. It is an embroidery workshop that young women come to on a daily basis to make the most fabulous of items; they also make custom-made products.
It does not take much of an investment to give so many people future prospects in third-world countries.
The class has a constant stream of interested students. It is amazing how a relatively small investment can so utterly affect young people’s lives. The project advertises by simple word-of-mouth.
By being among them and seeing the kinds of things they have to face up to in their daily lives, people become faces and faces become names, identities and personalities. By talking to them, you can build a relationship, connect and interact. You don’t even have to go to Bangladesh: with some financial support, you can forge a relationship with them from your own home, from behind your own computer. Just do it!