From abandonment to empowerment
Her story is nothing short of a fairy tale.
Reshma was only two months old when her father left her mother Hosne Ara. Every day was a battle for Hosne Ara to provide for her baby girl, and as Reshma entered eighth grade, poverty forced her into an arranged marriage.
To make things worse, her husband turned out to be a gambler and drug addict, subjecting Reshma to relentless abuse in his pursuit of drug money, even in front of her mother, who used to live with them. So she decided to divorce him, liberating herself and her mother from the clutches of despair.
Rebuilding their shattered lives, Reshma and her mother found solace in Bonga village, nestled in the Sherpur upazila of Bogura. However, the shadows of Reshma's past haunted her every move. People's curiosity about her absent father and estranged husband served as a constant reminder of her painful past, igniting a fire within her to establish her own identity.
With no financial means or formal education, Reshma faced an uphill battle, but her determination knew no bounds. She vowed to carve a path where her name would shine independently, transcending the limitations of her circumstances.
TURNING THE WHEELS OF FORTUNE
In 2014, she seized an opportunity to receive training in fish farming and tailoring from the District Jubo Unnoyon Kendra.
"Besides, with a loan of Tk 50,000 from the Kendra and additional support from my mother, I acquired a cattle and a goat, laying the foundation for my venture," she told The Daily Star recently.
"In 2016, I expanded my repertoire by engaging in the production of vermicomposting (the use of earthworms to convert organic waste into fertiliser) and tricho-compost (a type of compost used to improve soil fertility and increase crop yields)," she added.
Armed with training from Bogura's Rural Development Academy, she ventured into the world of poultry-pigeon farming in 2018.
Ever determined, she diversified her endeavours, cultivating an assortment of vegetables and crops that yielded a bountiful harvest of 100 maunds of maize from three bighas of land.
Today, Reshma's dedication bears fruit as her monthly earnings exceed Tk 2 lakh. Her sales encompass 45 tonnes of vermin-compost, 10 tonnes of tricho-compost, and earthworms, contributing an additional Tk 40,000 to Tk 50,000 per month.
Reshma acknowledges support she has received from agriculture and livestock offices, Jubo Unnoyan Kendra and Rural Development Academy. Above all, she cherishes her mother's unwavering support, who she describes as "an anchor amid life's tempestuous seas.
Furthermore, her poultry, milk-egg, and fish farming efforts generate an impressive Tk 50,000 to Tk 60,000 each month.
Through her relentless pursuit of success, Reshma has acquired substantial assets, having acquired six bighas of land valued at Tk 2 crore since 2016.
Her meteoric rise has garnered recognition and accolades, including the esteemed National Youth Award in 2022 and the Rajshahi Divisional Joyita Award, for her financial achievements.
In March of this year, Reshma clinched the Channel-I Award-22 in the Sangrami Nari Krishok category.
Reshma acknowledges the support she has received from the agriculture office, livestock office, Jubo Unnoyan Kendra, and the Bogura Rural Development Academy. Above all, she cherishes her mother's unwavering support, who she describes as "an anchor amidst life's tempestuous seas".
Md Raihan, livestock officer of Sherpur Upazila, commended Reshma's indomitable spirit, hailing her as a self-confident and exceptional example of self-employment.
"Her tenacity and economic accomplishments have ignited a spark of inspiration among countless women, proving that one's destiny need not be dictated by circumstances," he said.
Tosaddek Hossain, deputy director of the Bogura Jubo Unnoyan Kendra, echoed the same by reflecting on Reshma's remarkable journey, highlighting the hurdles she overcame.
SHE ALSO GIVES BACK
Not content with her achievements, Reshma empowers others through her various self-employment initiatives. On her farm, a dedicated workforce of 20 to 30 individuals diligently toil alongside her.
Moreover, she actively nurtures the growth of new entrepreneurs across the country, catalysing change. Reshma's impactful work has attracted the attention of researchers from institutions like Bangladesh Agricultural University and foreign countries, who visited her farms to witness the fruits of her labour.
Additionally, the Bogura Rural Development Academy organises training programmes at Reshma's farms, where she imparts her knowledge and expertise to aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women.
Reshma's commitment to self-employment has not only transformed her own life but has also sparked a ripple effect, empowering individuals to overcome their own limitations.