My Story of Growing up with Grameen Bank

Fahmida Zaman

I was born in a village named Bahadurpur in Rajbari where very few people value education, let alone educating girls. I was fortunate enough that my family is one of those few who value education more than anything. My mother, the first of several strong women who have been influencing my life, always told me “education is the best thing we can give you.”  My father, another great influence, planted in my head from childhood that “never forget your responsibility to your people, do something for your society and country.”

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However, my father, the only bread earner of the family, was straggling to provide enough for more than 10 members of the family. To support the family, my mother first borrowed money and a “Polli Phone” from Grameeen Bank in 2000. With the money, my mother started her own small poultry farm and the phone was used for my father’s small fertilizer business. As my father’s business got stable, my mother devoted her time in our education.

To my mother, Grameen Bank’s contribution is much more than monetary. In her words, “The best thing Grameen Bank has done or is doing is educating my daughter. The education she is getting at Asian University for Women, which would have been very difficult without The Muhammad Yunus Fellowship, is not only facilitating better education for my younger children but also for the thousand others, who I daughter wish to help in future.”

I went to Sajuria High School for secondary and Machpara Degree College for higher secondary school at my village and graduated from high school in 2008. I was awarded Grammen Bank Best Student for my HSC result. Following that I got admitted at the University of Dhaka, however I was not satisfied with the learning environment.

In 2009, I got admitted to Asian University for Women and awarded The Muhammad Yunus Fellowship at the AUW, which fully funds the attendance at the university for six years. It is my 3rd year of undergraduate and I am studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at AUW. It has been a turning point of my life because AUW provides me with a great learning environment, international student body, and a better schooling which has been helping me to prepare myself to fulfill my responsibilities toward my society.

To apply what I learn in class rooms to real world context, I volunteered as a public relation officer at the Volunteer for Bangaldesh, Chittagong branch, worked as a senior staff reporter for Dispatches International, a Canadian Online Magazine, and interned at the Ain-O-Salish Kendra.
Last August, I have been selected as one of the five participants from Bangladesh for the Near East and South Asian Undergraduate study exchange program (NESA) funded by the Department of State, USA, and currently studying International Relations at the St. Catherine University, Minnesota. I am also interning with Witness for Peace in Minnesota.

Following my graduation from AUW in 2014, I would like to work for a year or so and prepare myself for graduate school abroad. My future goal is to fully participate in economic development and political reform of Bangladesh. I want to do something significant in my life meaning to be the change I want to see in my society. In other world to “make myself useful” to the society as Dr. Muhammad Yunus pointed out at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum on 8th of March, 2013.

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