A total of 1332 women belonging to ultra-poor families at 37 unions of Lalmonirhat's four upazilas now eye changing their life through small savings, thanks to the initiative of Strengthening Women's Ability for the Productive New Opportunity (SWAPNO) project of UNDP.
Under the project, 1332 women formed a group titled 'Musti Chale Unnayan' for collecting fistful rice in September last year and continued saving, taking a fistful of rice from the daily meal of each family.
In this way, each of them collects at least three kg of rice in a depot every month.
The total deposited rice is sold every month and the amount is deposited to a bank account in consultation with SWAPNO officials.
"Collection of fistful rice does not affect our daily meal but it helps us a lot," said SWAPNO's member Shahuda Begum at Barabari village in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila.
''We have been depositing fistful rice, and hopefully it will come to help us when we have to face difficulty to run the family,'' she said.
''It is easy to deposit fistful rice and it never affects our daily meal. Hope our deposited fistful rice will bring a brighter day for us one day,'' said Golapi Rani, a member of SWAPNO at Teesta River basin Rajour village in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila.
Rezina Khatun, a SWAPNO member at Teesta River basin at Votmari village in Kaliganj upazila said, they will continue depositing fistful rice and once this deposit will bring solvency to the SWAPNO women.
''If any of our SWAPNO member faces trouble or crisis in her family she would get help from our 'Mustir Chale Unnayan' platform,'' she said.
UNDP's SWAPNO project officials said, all 1332 women from the ultra-poor population segment have been given training on how they can run their families through doing small business. All these women are involved in small businesses including clothe trading, grocery shop, egg and milk selling, vegetable production, tailoring, muri-chira producing, jute products and the like.
They have been given financial support to continue their small business in the villages and now they are in good position, the said.
''We motivate the ultra-poor people to fight against poverty. Our project also provides funds to help the ultra-poor people continue their family profession and do small businesses,'' said Mohammudul Hoque, district manager of UNDP-SWAPNO project in Lalmonirhat.
"After working with SWAPNO project, the ultra-poor women at 37 unions in four upazilas of Lalmonirhat are now much conscious about changing their life through collective efforts,'' he said adding that they are monitoring the women's initiative to deposit fistful rice.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) in Lalmonirhat Md Abui Jafor said depositing fistful rice is a life-changing idea for the ultra-poor women who are now involved with small business in the villages. Their small deposit will once bring a big benefit, the DC said.
SWAPNO women are now a lesson for other women especially from the ultra-poor families in the district, the DC also said.