My Dhaka : Khushir Bazar

Where everything is affordable

Underprivileged people are crowding the "Khushir Bazar" shop at Mohammadpur's Beribadh, where they can buy clothes, shoes, frocks, household commodities, and furniture for nominal prices starting from Tk 10. It is retail therapy at its affordable best, giving the disadvantaged a right of choice. They can choose and buy according to their needs, and it is not charity as they are making a purchase.

"The Khushir Bazar is a perfect place to do our shopping. We come here often to buy what we need. I'm here to do early Eid shopping, and with only Tk 500, I bought a panjabi, trousers, and three-piece salwar kameez for my family," says Nargis, a vegetable vendor.

Khushir Bazar is a shopping outlet of "10 Takay Khushi", a project of Switch Bangladesh Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded in 2011. The foundation was established by seven enthusiastic friends from Dhaka University, Buet, and Dhaka Medical College.

Switch Bangladesh Foundation's mission is to ensure quality education for vulnerable, marginalised children and improve the socio-economic condition of their parents. Their target groups are mostly day labourers, landless and homeless people, and housemaids with an income of less than Tk 200 per day. Their area of operation is the Mohammadpur Gabtali Beribadh slum -- a backward area where activities of non-government organisations (NGO) or government charities are absent. The foundation caters to 20,000 families with its subsided project.

Muinul Ahsan Faysal, a founder and general secretary of Switch Bangladesh Foundation, explains, "During Covid-19, while visiting different slum areas in Mohammadpur, we found out that disadvantaged women and children there only had a few pieces of clothing. They lacked household commodities like pillows, mattresses, etc. Our volunteers came up with the idea of collecting used clothes, toys, utensils, glassware, and furniture from well-to-do families, and after sorting and cleaning them, we sell them to the underprivileged for a token sum of money."

To run this project, the volunteers donate anything between Tk 100 to 1,000 and the rest is managed from sales. The carrying cost of things like furniture and heaps of clothes takes up a lot of money. It is costly to bring the clothes, and wash, clean, iron, and package them.

"To give them peace of mind we initiated this payment process," says Faysal. "We do all these so that the buyers, who are slum dwellers, don't feel like they took it for free. It helps them cope with the recent price hike."