Remote villagers make living from online jobs

Jahangir Sarker, far right, giving a trainee lessons on freelance work at his home-cum-training centre in Lalmonirhat's Durakuti village. The 27-year-old gives free training on freelance work to youths in his area. The photo was taken recently. Photo: S Dilip Roy

Jahangir Sarker could have been just another unemployed postgraduate the country has so many of. But the zeal within the 27-year-old is unrelenting.

Dejected by not getting jobs he deserved in four years even though he had a postgraduate degree on accounting from Dhaka College, he returned to his remote village home in Durakuti of Lalmonirhat in June, 2014.

Any other chap and that would have been the end. He would probably work in the crop field, not that there is anything wrong with it, or set up a small convenient store in the village if he could gather the capital.

That's what most people would have thought and they did so when Jahangir returned to his village.

Armed with a lousy 2G internet connection for his desktop, which was intermittent most of the time, Jahangir set his spirit of entrepreneurship into action. 

In 2013, he had done some freelance work. So after returning home the first thing he did was scour the internet for freelance work. His hunt paid off and he started getting work. The jobs he was getting started from designing T-shirts to writing the literature for brochures and articles. 

He started earning money finally.

This could have been the happy ending to a story one might be satisfied with, but Jahangir is not one of those people.

With the money he earned, he brought in a proper broadband connection to the village and set up a training centre for the village youths in his home about 10 months ago.

At least 135 youths of the area have so far had training absolutely free of cost in his home on getting and doing freelance work over the internet.

Of the 135, at least 37 have already started earning money.

Jahangir even bears the cost of their internet use.

Jahangir said his village was close to the Indo-Bangla border and drug addiction was alarmingly high among the youths. He had thought “why not show them a better way?”

He said, “The locals didn't receive me warmly at first, but they now trust me as freelance work was gave a new hope for the village.”

Ferdousi Akhter, 19, an honours student living in the village, said, “We are getting training on freelancing for free. We get internet facilities but we never pay as Jahangir Bhai bears everything. I will start earning from freelancing within a very short time.”

Nibedita Roy, 19, of the same village, said, “I spend my leisure time on training on freelance work and I am happy to get such an opportunity.”

Rezaul Islam, 23, of the same village said after six months' training, he has started to earn. “I'm earning $300 to $350 every month,” he said, adding that Jahangir's help was continuing still.

Sarawar Hossain, 25, said he is now happy as he is earning unexpected amounts from freelance jobs. “I'm earning alongside studying, and I don't spend my time off for anything else,” he said.

Local Nazrul Islam, 55, said they did not trust or believe in Jahangir when he started freelance work from the village. “Now we believe in and trust Jahangir as our unemployed youths are earning and they are being protected from drugs,” he said.

Jahangir said he was doing this because he wanted his native village free of unemployment and drugs.

“I am trying to build my freelance community as an institute and I want to provide facilities to all educated people,” he said, hoping that he would bring in better opportunities to the community within two years.


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