Thanapara Swallows Development Society
Background of Thanapara Swallows Development Society:
Thanapara Village is located in the northwestern part of Bangladesh on the riverbank of Padma (Ganges). During the liberation period in 1971, this quiet and peaceful village was transformed when on the 13th of April, the Pakistani Army suddenly invaded the village and killed over 100 unarmed men. This massacre was the largest atrocity in the Rajshahi District during the war. With the destruction of the male heads of household, the families in the village faced certain destitution and hopelessness.
In 1973, the Swedish organization, The Swallows, hearing of the massacre and the resultant desperation of the survivors, began a relief program on 1st October 1973 providing food and clothing to the people of Thanapara named The Swallows Association for Social Voluntary Service, Thanapara Project. The following year, a primary school was also started for the poor children and a handicraft program for the war-affected women of the village. Swallows, Sweden, funded both of these programs. In 1985, The Village Development Program was started to further develop the existing programs and to find ways to broaden program support activities for the mostly women residents of the village.
Currently, a full-time staff and representative members from all of the village programs manage the Society. The Handicrafts Program is a self-sustaining operation with 138 women and three men working regularly. The Formal Primary School has over 300 students and maintains a waiting list of needy children. The Village Development Program consists of some 5,225 members who are saving regularly.
Since gaining full independence from the Swallows Sweden organization on 1st July 1999, the Thanapara Swallows Development Society has been seeking ways to make all programs sustainable without having to rely. Now Thanapara Swallows Development Society implementing different projects, supported by different organizations. Our on going programs and projects are as follows:
The Handicrafts Program (Ethical business programs):
The handicraft program is an ethical business programs deeper connection to the rural root. Born out to the humble resolve to empower to the marginalized rural women and enable to realize their full potential handicraft program is one of the biggest programs at TSDS since 1973. It has been working towards to the TSDS mission of empowering women through economic development and human capacity building with specific focus on the empowerment of women. The purpose was to provide a platform of rural women where they could have a place to produce products and get a fair market price. Starting a journey with providing employment for a limited number of rural women Handicrafts program rapidly extended its support by working many other artisan and crafts.
The Handicrafts Program is divided into five sections: Weaving, Sewing, Embroidery, Block Batik and Coconut shell button making. In each of these sections, the villagers to make products either by special order or for general sale use local materials. Items produced range from handloom fabrics, to bed covers, wall hangings, women and children clothing to various types of bags. These products are sold largely in Japan, UK, Denmark, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Sweden. The organization is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), ECOTA Fair Trade Forum, and Bangla Crafts.
The Primary School Program:
The students enrolled in the Primary School Program all come from the poorest families in the village and consequently cannot afford to attend the government schools. Students receive instructions in both academic course work and vocational training. In the vocational training students are taught weaving, sewing, embroidery and gardening. There are also sports, drama, singing, and small-scale gardening. Once a week, students work in the fields where they gain practical experience in farming techniques.
Name of Present Buyers
No Name of Buyer Country
01 The Fair Trade Company Japan
02 People Tree Ltd. UK
03 The Swallows In Northern Finland Finland
04 V&V Denmark
05 TWINE Taiwan
06 Ministitch UK
07 Fair Trade Korea
08 Bhalo Australia
09 Decent Bangla Sweden
10 700 Rivers USA
11 Behulah London UK
The Village Development Program
In this program, poor people are organized in groups to address some of the more pressing needs of the village. In addition to pooling their monies to create savings, they discuss social issues such as dowry, health issues and social problems.
On-going training is considered a vital part of our organization’s effectiveness. At out Training Center, we are able to accommodate up to 60 people at a time. From time to time, the Center is leased to other area NGOs that provides additional income for our Center. The comfortable Center has a well-staffed dormitory and some computer support services are available.
Non-formal Primary Education Project:
BRAC supports this project that seeks to educate the drop out students in the rural area. TSDS continuing 22 schools, where 660 students are getting primary education and they will continue three years to complete primary course.
Ending Violence against Women and Child for those communities: Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA) supports this project which seeks to combat women and child about their rights in the family and society, and to prevent violence against women and child. This project provides government to make a new law to eradicate domestic violence against women and child.
Agricultural Rights Program:
Thanapara Swallows Development Society (TSDS) has been implementing Agricultural Rights project since January 2014. Previously there were 24 groups and that was limited in Charghat upazila. From January 2014 it has been working with 32 organizations in chargaht upazila of Rajshahi district. Through issue based group meeting, training, rally, workshop, seminar, cultural show, input support and demonstration awareness building as well as practice of environment-friendly agricultural activity is going on and scaling up.
Women’s Accessibility Project in social, political and economic sphere (Access Program):
Ensuring accessibility of women in their actual rights is obviously lengthy process. The situation of women and children is still characterized by violence and repression. Increase in the access to information would help creating a well - educated and affluent civil society, who can make informed judgment to attain their rights and discharge their responsibilities as a citizen. Access Program under Thanapara Swallows is working for mobilizing the community people to increase access of women in social, political and economic sector. Through the group meeting, pressure group meeting, NNPC they are getting awareness about their rights and they are moving to get service to service holders such as government officials, Union Parishad, educational institution as well as they are trying to stop early marriage, dowry, domestic violence, violence against women. Women group members are involving with IGA, homestead gardening, home base handicraft activities. WID committee meeting is going on regularly. A woman group member got membership in a school management committee member. As a whole these activities are contributing to achieve project goal and objective in positive way.
Net to Rights :
The idea of promoting women’s rights through cooperation within a network came to the fore during the partnership visit financed by the Swallows in Denmark. During the visits, discussion on progress and problems, the organizations and women’s groups have expressed the need of improving the capacity of the organizations at the three levels mentioned in order to strengthen women’s rights. Furthermore, the organizations have expressed the wish of cooperating within a network of organizations working with the poorest women in society and who would benefit from sharing of experience with advocacy for women’s rights.
Computer Training Center:
To face the challenges of 21st century there is no alternative of computer learning. Computer is now an essential things and part of life as well. In every sectors, i.e., business, administration, communication, education, research computer is flesh and blood. But for the poor inhabitants of Bangladesh, it’s a dream to buy a PC because they have no enough money to buy it. Especially the students they are very much eager to learn it. In our working area the picture is same. In town level, some rich people are doing business with computers. They offer training course with a big amount of money. It is also not affordable for the poor students. TSDS thought a lot about the issue and decided to open a computer-training center where poor student will be able to take course with very little amount of money. But TSDS had not enough capacity to buy new computers for the training center. It started to search donation for the computers.
Day Care Center:
In order to take care the babies of handicraft produces; day care center is established in TSDS, which would give the producer an opportunity to work with mind satisfaction, as they would be tension free for their kids. Their kids will grow up staying aside their mother as well as in a charming environment