I had the opportunity to intern at BRAC USA this summer and it has been a wonderful experience. It is enthralling to see how many people BRAC has been able to reach out to and make a difference in their lives. BRAC has been able to come with innovative solutions to eradicate ultra poverty, empower women and adolescents, provide education and healthcare and so much more. More importantly, these solutions are scale-able, sustainable and effective.
Additionally, BRAC USA is a tight-knit community with friendly, extremely talented people with an inspiring and charismatic leader to match.
I am currently interning with BRAC USA and just as many others have echoed, BRAC has a clear vision of what key problems they plan to address in the world. BRAC is innovative and collaborative. They seem to have found a problem in society with a solution that has spread like wildfire in hopes of eradicating ultra poverty as well as empowering women and girls, providing education and so much more.
I worked as a summer intern in summer of 09' for MANOSHI- MNCH maternal and neonatal health project in urban slums of Dhaka.My ‘light-bulb’ moment in public health came inside a small hut in a crowded Bangladeshi slum as I watched a group of women-all undereducated slum dwellers- help a woman give birth to a healthy baby girl. All they used for what I once thought as a complicated surgical procedure was a sterile scalpel, piece of thread, some gauze, a plastic sheet and incessant religious chants. This moment brought into stark reality the positive impact this community-based approach have and will continue to have in reducing high maternal and neonatal mortality rates in Bangladesh. During my in-depth interviews, regional meetings and personal encounters with Bangladeshi health workers and slum inhabitants, I learned how community-based health can pave a path not only to upgrade living standards but also to safeguard human rights and gender equality. BRAC has done a highly commendable job in reaching and serving these underpriviledged women and thier families and creating a healthier generation amidst extraordinary levels of poverty. At MANOSHI what is saw was women's empowerment I have read in books and policy reports, put into action. I wish BRAC-Bangladesh and its staff more and more strength to carry out thier wonderful work in eliminating poverty, safeguarding human rights and empowering women and younger generations in Bangladesh!
I am fortunate to have the opportunity to intern with BRAC USA in the summer of 2010. As an individual who is passionate about poverty alleviation, I feel inspired by BRAC’s mission and achievements. The multifaceted approach towards poverty alleviation has proven both scalable and sustainable across Africa and Asia. BRAC inspires because the organizations seeks to better the lives of the impoverished and underprivileged through the economic ad social empowerment of local communities. Furthermore, the flexibility with which BRAC approaches each of its projects is one of the organization’s greatest strengths. The creation of BRAC USA in 2007 is an integral step in raising awareness of the global issues faced today. I look forward to seeing the impact BRAC USA has on the international development landscape.
I have been involved with BRAC since 2007, first as a volunteer and then as a member of their Advisory Council. BRAC is an amazing institution and one that I believe truly represents the future of development. They touch nearly all aspects of development. From healthcare to agriculture to microfinance to education to women's issues, BRAC does it all and they do it well. As I think about BRAC in the context of other organizations, I think, "what if the World Bank merged with Berkshire Hathaway", famed investor, Warren Buffet's, company. A Goliath utterly devoted to alleviating poverty, but managed like the best of the global multinationals. I have personally visited BRAC’s operations in Uganda, Bangladesh and Liberia. I have seen their mega dairy and chic fashion stores in Dhaka (providing market linkages for the poor in general and microfinance clients in particular), poultry vaccination and model farm programs in Liberia and adolescent development programs in Uganda, among others. Seeing a woman proudly display the hair dryer for her salon business in Uganda that a BRAC loan enabled her to buy, watching families gather on poultry vaccination day in Liberia, touring the gleaming dairy in Dhaka that effectively creates the market linkages for BRAC borrowers, seeing a women proudly showing her rice plot which demonstrated the in-line planting method for rice all gave me a clearer picture of the good work BRAC does. The scale and breadth of their programs is truly stunning. They start small, think big and scale up. They fix what doesn't work and stop what can't work. Though BRAC's main activity is microfinance, it would be a mistake to classify them as such. Their expertise in education is so deep, governments often invite them in to help build school systems. Their experience in health is such that they are considered as partners for the largest healthcare NGOs. Indeed they were early pioneers in such critical interventions as Directly Observed Treatment or DOT for TB treatment as well as oral rehydration therapy, so critical for combatting water born diseases in children. When I think about BRAC's secret sauce, I can't help but think that a key ingredient is the Bangladeshis. How many western NGOs would be able to field experts with 20 years of experience, in disciplines as diverse as education, healthcare and agriculture and convince them to move to such tough neighborhoods as Sudan, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Liberia for months and years at a clip. No family, no gleaming white SUVs, no security detail, no fancy hotels. Just the passion to help leave the world a little better than they found it.
I’m a US businessman who contributes time, money, and effort to BRAC because I believe it is the most effective Non-Government Organization operating in the developing world. In the past three years I have been a BRAC volunteer in Uganda, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. BRAC builds business from the ground up, hiring mostly local women. For many of these women, a position with BRAC is the best, if not only, salaried job they have ever had. What I like most about BRAC is standardization. BRAC doesn’t accept local limitations or excuses for inactivity. Their poverty reduction programs in micro-finance, health, agriculture, and education have been honed in Bangladesh for decades. When BRAC enters a new country it applies proven templates with little variation. Inexperienced women are hired, trained to execute the BRAC program, carefully supervised, and held accountable for results. The outcomes are truly astounding and encouraging, particularly given the poor track record of other NGO’s and government programs in the developing world. BRAC entered Afghanistan shortly after the fall of the Taliban in 2002 and now operates in virtually every province. With programs in Health, Education, Micro-finance, National Solidarity, and Training, BRAC is currently the pre-eminent NGO in Afghanistan. BRAC came to Sri Lanka to provide emergency aid and economic relief to the victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami of December 2004. Today BRAC is one of the leading micro-finance lenders to women in the country, operating with a local staff of 100% female managers. In Uganda, the results have been remarkable. When the first BRAC employee arrived from Bangladesh in 2006 there were over 100 Micro-Finance Institutions active in the country. Today, BRAC is among the top five MFI’s in Uganda, employing thousands of local women as credit officers, branch managers, and regional managers making un-collateralized micro-loans to poor women. BRAC Uganda has reinvested proceeds from micro-lending to expand into health, education, agriculture, and female adolescent programs. After setting up shop in Uganda, BRAC expanded across Africa to Southern Sudan, Tanzania, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and possibly other countries. BRAC moves so fast, it’s hard for me to keep up. Although I volunteer for BRAC because I believe they leverage my effort more effectively than any other NGO, the real reason I keep coming back is the women I meet as a BRAC volunteer. Honest, hard working women like Regina in Uganda (http://drewkinder.blogspot.com/2008/01/regina.html), Shaimais in Afghanistan (http://drewkinderasia.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/shaimais-in-afghanistan), and Champika in Sri Lanka (http://drewkinderasia.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/its-all-about-progress) prove to me that there is hope for poverty alleviation in the most difficult locations. It all begins with BRAC and the noble women they empower to make a real difference.