In 1999 a number of concerned and like minded young people whose heritage lies in Singerkach village within Sylhet district of Bangladesh decided to set up an organisation with charitable purposes. The aim of the charitable organisation is to improve the lives of people in poverty, through a programme of development projects in the village. It was also acknowledged that the first generation built schools, supported the Madrasha as well as many other projects to help the needy in our village. A gap of thirty years has passed without significant infrastructure development in the village.
A number of meetings were held in Oldham and eventually 10 people became founding members and established the Singerkach Development Committee. A full constitution was developed an a bank account being opened. Chairman (Habibur Rahman), Secretary (Muzahid Khan and Treasurer (Abdul Ali) were appointed. It was agreed that before funds were to be raised and fund raising activities to be developed we needed to prove our commitment by each member donating £10 a month for as long as they live to the charity pot and build up a fund base.
The Singerkach Health Centre
A consultation meeting was held in the village in 2000, with the purpose of promoting the charity organisation and also consulting the village elders and young people about the needs of the people. The consultation meeting was recorded as part of radio 4 documentary called “cementing the ties”, being broadcast on radio 4. After much discussion the village elders gave their verdict
They wanted a medical facility that would detect illnesses early, treat poor people free and provide free medication.
They were pleased that young people from the second generation were coming back to help the needy. It will be a health centre/clinic facility initially and will be developed stage by stage.
With this information, a group visited various clinics in Sylhet town. Sylhet is the major city in Northern Bangladesh and has many privately owned medical clinics which poor people cannot afford to visit if they are ill and also because of poor transport many poor people die on the way to clinics or the one government owned hospital in Sylhet. The clinics visited included, Red Crescent, Marie Stopes, Ragib Rabeya Foundation and One outside Dhaka (the capital) run by BRAC the largest and most succesful NGO in Bangladesh. It was a learning exercise one which will continue as the project develops.
Since these small steps have been taken and the group has matured and the project is developing. Ustar Khan, Azmoth Khan & their mother generously donated a piece of land for the building of the clinic/health centre. The Bangladesh government has been informed and further discussions will take place in the near future with the new member of Bangladesh Sangshad, for Biswanath & Balagonj.
Conference & Consultation
A number of consultation meetings and seminar have been been organised in Oldham & Birmingham (including Walsall) with people from the village who have made Oldham their home. We have communicated with people in London, Swansea, Milton Keynes, Cleethorpes and many other towns. In these meetings, the vision was explained and feedback and valuable comments were received.
A conference was organised in Oldham inviting all people who have come from the village in the UK in Novemeber presenting the case for the clinic/health centre. A video was shown to explain the site of land and the support of all village elders local people. This was shown on the 2 satellite channels Bangla TV and Channel S.
Furthermore, an architects firm based in Oldham of whom one of the partners family heritage is in the village of Singerkach has offered to do some drawings of the project an no cost and has also kindly decided to raise £3,000 with his business partner and friends.
A number of English colleagues who have visited Bangladesh on the fact finding tours organised previously are keen to donate and fundraise. A further radio 4 documentary is being planned.
The opportunity to link with British doctors and hospitals is being developed with early conversations with Bangladesh Medical Association and Royal Oldham Hospital.