Adam Kruse

Adam Kruse (The Blind Education and Rehabilitation Development Organization - BERDO): Adam developed his passion for community organizing and advocacy while serving in Argentina as a Rotary International Exchange Student from 2006-07. Adam worked on a project building a local school and water system in the impoverished interior of Formosa. This experience led him to pursue a B.A in Anthropology from Luther College, where he focused on cultural and theoretical anthropological perspectives as well as social and cultural change. Adam also worked as a caseworker for Lutheran Refugee Services helping Somali and Hmong refugees to develop sustainable business models. After his fellowship Adam wrote: "What I did in Bangladesh was less about the work I did with the organization and more about the relationships I was able to develop with individuals. I connected people who wouldn’t have otherwise been connected, and raised awareness of the issues faced in Bangladesh. The most radical changed thing of all is probably my view of the world and the new ways I’ve learned to interact with it."


29 Jun

After a seven-hour bus ride and two-hours on a ferry, Saidul Huq and I finally got to Barisal. I have a lot to say about that particular bus ride, but I think I’ll spare you the distress. Most importantly, my travel partner and I arrived at our destination still (miraculously) in one piece.



Meeting with the Micro-credit group in Barisal
Meeting with the Micro-credit group in Barisal


For those of you unfamiliar with BERDO, Saidul is the founder and Executive Director. He is also blind and has been since he was six. In my first weeks here he was my guide. I’ll never forget having Saidul give me a tour of city: we were riding in a rickshaw and he was pointing out all of the landmarks – “stadium on your left now…this is the government building on our right”, and so on. It was impressive to say the least.

Saidul and I were taking this trip so I could get acquainted with BERDO’s micro-credit program, which operates in three different locations including Barisal. During our short stay there I met with two local woman’s groups who receive Micro-loans: one strictly made up of women and the other (as far as I could tell) consisting of all women but without claiming the title.

It was an amazing and totally different experience than Dhaka. The first thing I noticed about Barisal, to my relief, was the improved air quality and the reduced noise. The second thing I noticed was the generosity of its people. Their level of generosity is humbling. On countless occasions I have been invited in to strangers’ homes and fed a meal. Not to mention the numerous cups of tea.

The groups we met with in Barisal were formed around the programming that BERDO provides. If you get a loan, you definitely want to be part of one of these group. Outside of being a great resource economically, they provide a social environment that would be hard to come by if not for the structure of the programming.


Tania on the Left
Tania on the Left


Saidul translated for me as I asked Woman about their lives and their loans in particular.

Tania had taken out a loan for 8,000 TK (100 dollars). She keeps her finances separate from her husband’s and has learned how to use a shoe-making machine. She volunteered her time making shoes with another woman in the community, so she could learn the trade. When the time came, she bought her own machine and went into business. She said this was only possible because of the loan she received from BERDO. Saving in Bangladesh is not easy when you make a dollar a day (if you’re lucky). Before her loan, Tania wasn’t making any money and was supported on the $3 dollars a day her husband makes as an interior painter. They also have a child. Now she is making 700 TK a week (8 dollars) and is repaying to loan on time. It might not sound like much, but when you consider what it will mean for her when the loan is paid off, it’s a pretty incredible thing.

I’m headed back this week on a 12-hour ferry ride from Dhaka to Barisal. I’ll be staying in Barisal for a number of weeks looking into developing more micro-credit options and developing a proposal for donors.

Posted By Adam Kruse

Posted Jun 29th, 2012

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