There is an unexpectedly beautiful friendship in Sirajganj. It involves a young girl, a flock of birds and living with a rare disease.

 
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A rare disease

 

“My daughter was born with down syndrome” said Kajli as she watches Chobi, gently pet one of the new pigeons. “She has been always been a difficult child and I’ve always worried about her future, especially her health”.

 

Living in ultra poverty

 

Kajli’s husband passed away when Chobi was only 3 years old. She worked as an occasional housemaid and often only received food as her payment.

“So many days and months passed when I couldn’t find work and we went to bed eating only one meal of fermented rice with salt”, recalled Kajli. “On most nights, Chobi cried herself to sleep from hunger and I watched her, thinking how could I ever change our fate”.

 
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Pigeons of hope

 

Kajli was selected as an ultra poor participant in the TUP programme in 2013. She chose cattle rearing and poultry as her main enterprise and gradually, with her profits, she bought 2 pairs of pigeons. Now, with 32 pairs of pigeons, she has perfected her small business, selling six pairs and saving three to four for consumption every week.

 
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The TUP programme provides multiple enterprise options to participants they may choose based on their preference and abilities. They are provided training to manage their chosen assets and the cash stipend intends to improve household food security, allowing participants to focus on their enterprises.

 
 

The sizzle of frying fish and waft of lentils fills the house, as Kajli prepares their weekly khichuri. “Proper nutrition for my daughter’s weak health was always my concern, and I knew I could quickly learn this trade”, said Kajli.

 
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Kajli opens the door of the coop to drop some feed. The little birds have opened many other doors for the single mother, allowing her to raise cattle, grow vegetables and build a house with a tin roof. “My days start with the soft coos of the pigeons and end on a soft bed now.”