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Nari Jibon Project

 

Introduction:
Nari Jibon is a great place for women to learn some new skills and improve their life. Students of Nari Jibon receive training on a number of fields. The students get their basic language skills (Bengali and English), tailoring and computer. We have to remember that the students who come to Nari Jibon are often very poor and they cannot afford to learn these things if they did not receive generous support from Nari Jibon. Thus, these girls are learning a set of skills. However, just learning a skill is not enough and that is Nari Jibon is trying to support the students for increasing their presentation skills in the job market. This Internet based magazine is a great place in which computer students are now getting real life work experience.
Dr. Kathryn B. Ward is the main driving force behind Nari Jibon. She has dedicated her life for the welfare of the Naris (woman) that she works with. Her active participation is the best blessing for Nari Jibon and its students. Every one at Nari Jibon (both employees and students) can touch the active presence of Ms. Ward in their daily life. She is actively engaged in planning and implementing at Nari Jibon. Recently, she came to Bangladesh and we had the opportunity to interview her. Here is the interview:
 
Q: Tell us about yourself
Kathryn B. Ward: I am Kathryn B. Ward, my father worked in Oil Fields and my Mother was a teacher. My family moved around a lot. I was born in Louisiana, but lived in Texas, Oklahoma, and finally in Kansas but grew up in Kansas. I completed High School in Kansas, Bachelors in Sociology from Fort Hays State University. I started studying music, played the French horn, but then became interested in women’s issues and changed to sociology. Graduate School in University of Iowa in Iowa city, 1977-1982, Masters and Ph.D. in Sociology 1982. I went to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale as an assistant professor in sociology. Currently I am full professor in sociology and women’s studies and is the director of graduate study.
 

The women of Nari Jibon ICT Magazine are interviewing Kathryn B Ward


Q: When did you come to Bangladesh first time?
Kathryn B. Ward: I came to Bangladesh in 2000 first time to talk about women’s studies at Dhaka University for two weeks because we were talking about starting a women’s studies group. While I was here, I noticed many different types of groups of women. I saw garment workers and sex workers, and wanted to study these groups. I wrote a grant and came back in 2001 and spent a month in Bangladesh. While I was here, I interviewed 60 women about their work. My second trip was nice; I met many interesting people and did good work. I met Bithi’s Khala, who started doing some field work for me. From that research on that trip, I wrote two grants and stayed for 9 months in 2002 and 2003. For the last three years I spent most of my time in Bangladesh. I had my sabbatical and also got a Fulbright fellowship. This is my seventh trip [and third summer in] Bangladesh.

Q: When and why you setup Nari Jibon?
Kathryn B. Ward: I set up Nari Jibon in 2005, and before that, I founded an organization called Sathi. The teachers and coordinators were not very good, and I became very angry with them and closed it. I was paying all the bills, but didn’t like the way the organization was being run. Since the staff refused to make positive changes, I stopped funding the project and I decided to close it down and re-open with new staff and real students with real classes. In March of 2005, I opened Nari Jibon. It was a much better training program than the previous program. In December 2005, we opened the research cell. And the cyber cafe just opened recently.


Q: What are your benefits from Nari Jibon?
Kathryn B. Ward: The benefits of Nari Jibon have been wonderful, and I am very happy to see the progress of Nari Jibon. While there are many problems that happen with any growing organization, I am very happy to see the progress. I am especially pleased with Ruma (Khala) and how she has been able to learn English and Bangla, and develop herself into one of the best employees of Nari Jibon. I am pleased to see the eagerness of the students. I like to come to Bangladesh and check my email and get my clothes made in a quality establishment (Nari Jibon).

 

The women of Nari Jibon ICT Magazine are interviewing Kathryn B Ward


Q: Did you face any problem when did you set up Nari Jibon?
Kathryn B. Ward: I have had a hard time trying to set up something “different’ in Bangladesh. I was told that women wouldn’t be able to learn computers, and that they wouldn’t want to do Business. I was told that I would have to pay them to come to class. But I have been able to prove that it isn’t true, and it has taken a lot of time to change attitudes. 
Another problem is that I have seen that many of the Bengali medium schools are not very good. The students need help developing their creativity and other skills. 
 
Q: What do you thing about the position of Nari Jibon?
Kathryn B. Ward: I am happy to see the development of Nari Jibon, even in my absence. I have seen many women who were here in December, who are still continuing in July.
 
Q: What is your next plan about Nari Jibon?
Kathryn B. Ward:
Bangladesh has many women workers, garments workers, micro-credit recipients, and Bangladesh women have many challenges. Some Americans think that Bangladeshi women mostly live in the rural areas and are uneducated, but I have found that there are many bright and educated women living in Bangladesh. I want people to have a commitment to “thinking outside of the box” and women to think of new opportunities that could be available to them. I also want women to develop some skills that are not usually taught to women, for example: Office work, computers, tailoring and business. I have faith that women are able to do these things. I want women to have other work alternatives besides garment work
 

Aim of Nari Jibon

 

Interview of Katie Zaman



Q: When did you come to Bangladesh for the first time? And why?

Katie Zaman: In 1997 I came to Bangladesh for the first time as a new bride to meet my in-laws. I had never left the US before, and it was a very new experience for me. I came again in 2003 for a short visit, and then in 2004 as a Fulbright scholar for research on public health. I did a project on breastfeeding practices of women in rural Bangladesh. Doing this project helped me to understand the strength and ability of Bangladeshi women to survive. I realized that they deserve more support and opportunities to enhance their lives.
 

The women of Nari Jibon ICT Magazine are interviewing Katie Zaman


Q: How did you involve with Nari Jibon?

Katie Zaman: I met Dr. K.B. Ward, executive director and founder of Nari Jibon, through the Fulbright program. When I finished my research project and had some  time left in Bangladesh, I asked Dr. Ward if I could work with her in Dhaka. She offered me an internship to help set up Nari Jibon and to teach  the English classes. For the next five months, I spent almost every day at Nari Jibon and learned so much about the project.

Q: When did you become a member of board of trustees?

Katie Zaman: On 20 July 2006 I become the member of board of trustees of Nari Jibon.
 

Q: What do you do now?

Katie Zaman: Now I have been admitted in the PhD program in Development Studies, Sociology and Economics the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am starting classes in September 2006, and I will be conducting my dissertation research in Bangladesh.

 

Q: What is your future plan?

Katie Zaman: My short-term plan is to conduct my PhD research in Bangladesh on women working in the IT sector. The technology field is growing rapidly in Bangladesh, and I believe it offers wonderful opportunities for women to work in this profitable field. In the US, the technology field is a very male-dominated industry, but the trend in South Asia has been that more women are working in this field. It is encouraging to see this social structure in South Asia. In the long-term, I would like to teach at the college level and continue to work in Bangladesh. I hope that some day I will be able to apply for funding for Nari Jibon in order to support and extend the project.

Q: What is your feeling about the present position of Nari Jibon?

Katie Zaman: I am proud of how the organization has grown and developed in the year that I’ve been away. Nari Jibon has been able to change the lives of many of the women students and staff that have been involved. There is still a long way to go, so I hope that the next time I visit, I will be even more proud.

Q: What is your opinion about the activities of ICT magazine?

Katie Zaman: I am very excited about this project because I have been involved in web design and the internet for the past ten years. I think it’s a great tool for communication, and it can give the women of Nari Jibon a way to express themselves to the rest of the world. I enjoy reading the articles and would like to see more photographs posted.

 

Cyber Cafe and Computer Repair shop

Guardian Meeting

 

ICT Magazine training class & Photography class

From July 2006 Nari Jibon has been publishing web based ICT Magazine. On account of this, it has carrying out ICT Magazine training class & Photography class for developing the skills of the contributors of this magazine. Animesh Chandra Bain, Supervisor ICT Magazine, is teaching them.

In the first day of photography Nari Jibon Executive Director Kathryn Ward teaching the students of Nari Jibon.

   
 

Students are practice on the photography class

 

 

Nari Jibon Project
404/B (1st, 2nd & 3rd  floor) Malibag Chowdhurypara, Dhaka-1219.
Office Tel: 825-3637, Mob: 0189414949