Surely some of the excitement was just being able to hold the flopping carp for a moment. But the joy beaming across the face of a young fisherman was sincere. He and others had just pulled in their nets and revealed thousands of healthy fish, income for people who have struggled for so long. Once I learned the back-story behind this Bangladeshi fishing hole, and others like it, I was amazed to hear how it has come to be.
First, let me introduce you to Abdul. He lives in a Bangladesh farming community where small village businesses are set on stilts above rice paddies, and watermelons are piled high on the sidewalks. Here, it’s just as likely to travel by canoe as by car. Charming in its own way, but still incredibly poor.
Abdul has a large family; his wife and four of his girls were home when I visited. He was unable to support them on his meager income as a rickshaw driver. No matter if he worked eight hours a day – or 15 – he was still coming up short, and was not always able to provide them with enough food. No education for the girls. No savings. Not even a mindset of a future.
But about six years ago, Abdul was interested in World Concern‘s offer to begin a fish farming business. He began receiving – and repaying – loans for fish farm nets, feed and other supplies. And he got busy, making sure the fish had a healthy pond. He stuck to the plan. And it worked.
The fish grew, along with his confidence. He eventually was able to buy land for his family, and build a home. He makes and mends nets by hand. He saves at least $500 US every year, which is a tremendous amount of money in Bangladesh. In addition to the money, World Concern has walked with him, teaching him about fish farming and how to ethically run his small business. Now, he is the driving force behind this fish pond, one of many ponds in the area now able to support families in significant ways.
That happy young fisherman I described at the beginning of this story is one of many who benefit from World Concern’s humanitarian work with Abdul and other entrepreneurs. Many men in the village now raise fish frys, providing the men with steady income. The wealth spreads. Good humanitarian aid works that way, in changing the lives of not only one person, but in working through that person to help others in the community.
Abdul is buying cows now, building wealth. Sitting in front of his home, with his family inside about ready to sit down for lunch, he grinned and told me he is blessed and grateful to have the chance to live a better life.