I am a forty-two year old mother of three from a small community close to the southern Bangladeshi coast. This area is being increasingly affected by climate change, and by the disasters that are now coming more frequently and with greater severity. Each season brings with it a new emergency: a flood one season, a cyclone or drought the next.
I am constantly thinking through disaster scenarios in my head: where we will run to the next time a disaster hits, and how I will reduce the risk of disaster to myself, my family and my neighbours.
I always try to help those who are poor, who don’t have food and who have great need - women, children and aged people face a lot of problems. We do not have shelters in our area, and roads and highways are in a very bad state.
I have been a community activist since 2009, dedicating myself to working with my community to build resilience to disasters. I have established networks with local government and non-government organisations to ensure that the voices of my community members are heard and considered in local decision making processes.
With ActionAid’s support, I undertook training that better equipped me to help my community to respond effectively to a disaster. Armed with these leadership skills, I worked for three months to lead an emergency response when Cyclone Mahasen hit my community in 2013. With ActionAid’s assistance, I have brought my community’s messages to national and international forums. In March of 2015, I attended the World Conference of Disaster Risk in Japan, along with thousands of other global representatives and leaders. I wanted to represent communities vulnerable to disaster, and to stress the critical role of women in disaster risk reduction and emergency response.
In July last year year, when people in my area got scared after receiving signals for the Cyclone Komen, I gave courage to the people around me. I told them that there is no use being scared, we need to be brave!
Each time there is an emergency I contact everyone in my network to tell them that there is a disaster coming, and I give suggestions and advice about what steps to follow.
Everyone listens to what I say and everyone respects me. I am so proud of how far I have come and what I am able to do now. I am creating change!
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