It is 7am, and Jinnatun has already brought in firewood to cook her meals, watered her crops and made breakfast. She starts her day with a cup of tea on the steps, listening to the birds in the trees.
In a country where 75% of the population is still living in huts or mud houses, Jinnatun is sitting on brick steps.
Her new house took five years to build and it has three spacious rooms and a veranda. She has painted it orange with spots of blue to emulate the morning sky. She laughs; “I’ve brought the sunshine inside.”
Building a shelter
“I still remember that dreadful night when one of the walls almost came down during a storm. I held my children for hours and took shelter under the bed. I vowed that night that whatever it took, I would somehow build a house with bricks”, recalls Jinnatun.
This is not in any way unique to Bangladesh. Often referred as the ground zero for climate change, huts and mud houses are regularly destroyed in natural disasters and extreme weather.
A helping hand
Jinnatun worked as a housemaid and a seasonal agriculture worker while caring for her husband who had suffered a stroke and was unable to do hard work. There were several days when she could not find work and the family only had one meal per day. She did not own any productive assets or land, yet, she always wondered how she could improve their condition.
Jinnatun was enrolled in the UPG programme in 2006. In a few years, she was able to utilise her assets to invest and diversify her income. Jinnatun now owns a shop in the market, farm land, livestock and this beautiful house. She put her two son’s through college and they are now working in Dhaka and also providing for the family.
Jinnatun does not sell casual labour like before. Her two sons studies in Dhaka and her husbands runs the shop. She looks after the house and the livestock and teaches Quran to the local children. “Now I’ve got plenty of time”, says Jinnatun as she looks outside to the fields from her window “and I don’t have any more worries”.