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January, 2001, completion of the new classroom in the right

Imagine. You are on the journey along an endless rural road. Rain trees thrive on the both sides to make the border in the huge expansion of paddy fields. At times a hen crosses the road in a hurry in front of the car. Overloaded rickshaws go slowly.
All of a sudden a small white building appears in the green paddies, and that is the very first building-like building you see in the surroundings. It seems to be an entrance to a fairy land, inviting you in the green breeze. Narayanpur village school is there. As soon as we arrive, the children and the people surge from somewhere to invite us to a new world where there is no worldly traffic access.

The Narayanpur Village had a private primary school. It started from a shed by the village volunteers. Since the place was his grandfather’s land, the former Bangladesh Ambassador to Japan, Mr. AKM.H. Huq helped the school financially by appealing to some Japanese societies. He retired from his public life and went back to his motherland with the resolution to serve for the nation’s development for the rest of his life. He continued to appeal to Japanese organizations for financial help. In 1998, SRID (Society of Researchers of International Development) Women’s Club agreed to his activities and contributed a classroom. The village people managed to offer their labor between the field work to make the utmost use of the donated money, which enabled to purchase new desks, benches, refurbishment and even fifty books. They even re-painted the building white to be “brand-new” inside and outside. The whole process required nearly two years. When the building was completed, two teachers of mathematics and English were hired by the private money from Professor Kazuko Saito. She funded the two teachers’ salary for three years. Upon her retirement, the program was succeeded to SRID Women’s Club from September, 2005. There came about twenty applicants for the two positions of English and mathematics teachers. For this employment and the support, the village became famous as a “Japan Village” in the rural region, and the people, especially the unemployed, tried to see hope in the project. Thanks to the additional teachers, the village school proudly produces a few excellent students who can win government scholarship for advanced education every year.
From 2005 Sakura Mohila, Japan employed a music teacher for the children. He gives the children good music education and they can play the instruments and sing English songs as well as their national songs.
If you have time, go through that endlessly continued rain tree road until you see the white building. You will see, while you are wrapped up with the singing voices, “If all the children in the world laugh, the sky will also laugh. If all the children in the world sing, the sky will also sing…..” See the picture of the children. They have two meals a day and are always hungry, in fact.

March, 2006,
a box of snack for the children

in the classroom,
getting together for the concert

The school has a harmonium, two sets of drums and 160 ocarinas. They will have another set of drum this spring. With the change to the public school, they do not use slates any more, but use notebooks. It is a story of the year, 2005.


The shomity leader

the shomity women

In March, 2003, when there was some money, a program was added. The village women in their 40s who have “no land, no house or no husband” were called to organize a “shomity” or a community. Mr. Huq named it “Sakura Mohila” shomity, being in his seventh heaven. Sakura is the Japanese symbol flower and mohila means a woman in Bengali. The twenty-seven women of the shomity chose their leader. The leader lady has husband, a house and land in addition to strong leadership. Under her leadership, they began to save a little money every week when they got together at the leader’s house after work to learn reading and writing together with some social studies such as to stop the custom of dowry. The preparation was finished after one and a half years with the saved assurance money, and the seed money was offered by 3% interest on a loan. The leader took all the care of the management by the salary from Japan. Some women bought cows, goats or chickens to start their own jobs, and others bought air tickets for their daughters and sons to work out in Saudi Arabia. They take advantage of the low interest and the project works well for the welfare of the Sakura Mohila Shomity women.
In September, 2005, a Japanese woman contributed money for four sewing machines, instructor’s salary and rent for the work place. The women learned how to use the machines for nearly half a year and for the first time in the life they began to make bags out of saris for commercial purposes. Sakura Mohila Trading ordered the goods as its package bags. The bags are so beautiful and exotic and they have received additional orders from Japan. The bags are also sold as independent goods as well as the package bags.
The saris are bought in Dhaka and brought to the village by Hossain who is a relative with Mr Huq When the bags are made, he again brings to Dhaka. And the bags are checked and shipped out from there to Japan.

Sari bags, large and small sizes

the village women with a sewing machine
Gradually the village women will make other small things to sell in Japan. You will see what will come out in the future.
Sakura Mohila Trading was established to fund the village project in 2003. It sells Bangladeshi silk dresses in Japan. It has a designer who designs for the Japanese ladies and Bangladeshi tailors make according to the patterns under the instruction and training. Lately as there appear good linen and cotton in the market, it is beginning to use them to add variety of clothing style to the silk.
The practice of the past three and half years was not easy. The training began with measuring, because tailors made variety of sizes from one pattern. Three years of the training seems to put light on the project, when money appropriation happened on the Bangladesh side. Sakura Mohila Trading began to take on a new course to go on, despite the disappointment. It began to ask a big business to make according to the design by Sakura Mohila Trading, as well as asking cooperation to another private tailor for personal orders. So far, the big business can provide Sakura Mohila Trading with handwork of traditional embroidery and so on by the women and the handicapped.

Sakura Mohila Trading holds an “Exhibition & Sale” twice a year in June and January at a cafe gallery “SHINE” in front of YONO station, Keihin-Tohoku line. But it will become possible to increase the opportunities to show the goods on consignment in some more places. If you know any good place for us to show our goods, you can be a person who will give another opportunity to the Narayanpur village people.
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