Matthew Becker

Matthew Becker (Subornogram Foundation): Matthew received his B.A. in Political Science and International Business from Metropolitan State College in Denver in 2008. From 2008 to 2010 he worked as a community youth development volunteer with the Peace Corps in western Mongolia. Following the Peace Corps, Matthew taught in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and served as a juvenile risk assessor with a nonprofit in Colorado Springs. He is also a veteran of the Marine Corps Reserves. At the time of his fellowship Matthew was pursuing his M.S. in Global Affairs at New York University. After his fellowship Matthew wrote: "It gave me a better understanding of the problems Bangladesh faces and also issues surrounding the way NGO's work there. I got a better idea of the importance of journalism in advocating for human rights and education related issues for the communities that many people don't pay attention to or concern themselves with."



BAGMUSA – DALIT COBBLER COMMUNITY

12 Sep

As many readers may already know, Bangladesh is a predominately Muslim country. Like India and Pakistan though, it has quite a bit of diversity ethnically and religiously. The next largest religious group is the Hindus. In Sonargaon there are two Hindu communities, of the Dalit class (often called “the untouchables” in the Hindu caste system that still exists unfortunately) and mostly cobblers by profession, which Subornogram Foundation works with. Traditionally cobblers are looked down upon as an undesirable profession. There isn’t much money to be made and it’s not considered to be a prestigious job or title. Though there is no caste system in Islam, in Bangladesh even many of the Muslims look down on the Dalit. Perhaps it’s a social or cultural norm but to many of these people, this is their lot in life. This is what they were handed by their god or gods and this they must accept.

For safety purposes, the Dalit cobblers form their own communities and stick together. Like the river gypsies, children from the cobbler communities battle discrimination from other children in Sonargaon, even when trying to attend local schools. Recognizing the challenges faced by this underprivileged community, Subornogram Foundation has established schools in both the Bagmusa and Kabilganj cobbler communities of Sonargaon. As Shahed described in our interview, it’s part of Subornogram Foundation’s mission to encourage the children of these communities to continue their education, to pursue a better life, to know that they are able to try and improve themselves and improve the lives of their families. When Syed Zainul Abedin, correspondent for Xinhua News Agency (China) in Dhaka, came to visit Sonargaon and document Subornogram’s work, we visited the Subornogram school at the Bagmusa Cobbler community. Here’s a link to an article from Sayed’s visit:

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-09/04/c_131826857.htm

 

Below pics are from our visit to the Bagmusa Cobbler community with Syed. Thanks for reading! More to come.

 

Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community. Subornogram School for the Cobbler Children
Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community. Subornogram School for the Cobbler Children

 

 

Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community
Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community

 

 

Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community. Subornogram School for the Cobbler Children
Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community. Subornogram School for the Cobbler Children

 

 

Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community - Sonargaon, Bangladesh
Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community – Sonargaon, Bangladesh

 

 

Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community - Sonargaon, Bangladesh
Bagmusa Dalit Cobbler Community – Sonargaon, Bangladesh

Posted By Matthew Becker

Posted Sep 12th, 2012

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