FOCUS: Golap Banu Story With A Fijian Lesson

Dreams aren’t uncommon for human beings. Every day, millions even billions of dreams die without turning into reality. Few people are able to generate the energy due to their love
29 Dec 2014 12:47
FOCUS: Golap Banu Story 	With A Fijian Lesson
Golap Banu received the Begum Rokeya Awards 2014 from the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheik Hasin for her contribution in women’s education, rights and poverty reduction.

Dreams aren’t uncommon for human beings. Every day, millions even billions of dreams die without turning into reality.

Few people are able to generate the energy due to their love for their dreams and work hard for it to become a reality.

A dream will only become real if we can keep it in our heart and work with continuation to turn it into realism.

The story I am going to share today is of Golap Banu.

In Bangali literature Golap means rose. The last name Banu is a common female family title in Bangali community.

Having the name as rose didn’t mean that her life was like that of a rose, it was far from it, but her dreams were so full of fragrance, just like a rose.

This year the dream of the life came true as she won the Begum Rokeya Gold Medal. For Banu it has been more than a dream to be fighting life’s difficulties.


Sad story behind her life

Golap was born to a poor farmer father who used to sell agricultural products door to door in the market of the capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka. Golap used to help her father carry the goods using her head as transport during all his door to door selling trips.

After sometime she got access to a school to seek knowledge but just for one month only.

The reason for such a short duration at school was that once during schooling she took help from her brother to learn but when Golap couldn’t read properly, her brother beat her as punishment.

Golaps’ dad had witnessed this incident and advised his son to leave her alone. Golaps’ dad said, “My daughter doesn’t need to be a doctor or lawyer.

She will go with her husband to his house after marriage, so she does not need to go to school”.

This was the end of Golaps’ school life.

Time went by quickly and soon Gulap turned 14. It was then that her father decided that it was now time for her to go to her husband’s house and married her off to a bricklayer who didn’t have any family members of his own.

Four years into the marriage, Golap gave birth to her first born, a daughter. Soon after, her husband disappeared and Golap returned to her dads’ family.

She didn’t want to be a burden to them so she took a job in a jute factory. One year later, she found her husband as a continuation of her searching and she reunited with him despite her dad’s disapproval which added to the family’s suffering.

Being kind hearted her father couldn’t be displeased with Golap for long and provided a place for her family to stay with them. Despite all the odds, Golap continued her family life.

Food was always scarce and the rainy season was even worse for when it rained the house roof used to leak enormously. During this time Golap kept her kids dry by becoming an umbrella for them.

This is not an uncommon story in the 3rd world!


Story just began

In 1989, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) took the initiative to teach children. Golap’s son went there. At that time, the field officer (Nitto Audikari) of that NGO started special education for mature aged people and proposed to form an NGO for them.

He proposed 20 people per team of five of the 100 members in 1992 since the start of the new NGO by involving Golap Banu.

The initial subscription was Tk. 50 (F$1.30) was really difficult for Golap to pay. Nitto gave a wonderful solution to her as to how she could come up with that F$1.30.

He suggested that each time she cooked rice, she could save some of it and sell it to slowly come up with her amount to form a new NGO.

She liked the idea and started the new journey of life. However, no creative journey is free from hurdles.

In 1997 Nitto’s NGO closed. It was a hard challenge now for Golap who didn’t want to close her activities. She took the initiative and employed Nitto Audikari as a manager and she became the founding chairperson of her own NGO- Baridara Woman Welfare Organisation (BWWO).

After that, there was no turning back for Golap, just move forward!


Current assets and welfare activities

Starting with 100 members with Tk. 5000 in 1997, BWWO now has its own six story building, Tk. 1.7 billion with a total of 43,000 members.

They give loan to the poor to utilise in activities that will help to enhance their living standards. BWWO has its own real estate department to provide at least one house for each member.

In addition, they are running several activities throughout Dhaka, especially in many elite business places.

They also operate several schools for mature aged candidates and run other social activities.

A 12-member governing body is running this organisation with the support of 71 staff.

A minimum monthly transaction for this NGO is Tk. 1 million. Golap has denied taking any salary from this organisation.


Recognition from the

Baridara Woman Welfare Organisation has received many awards from national and international community.

Among these, in 2002 and 2009 this organisation received Top Woman NGO Award. In 2010 Golap has been awarded as a National Organiser.

On December 9, 2014, the Prime Minister gave Golap the highest woman award in Bangladesh which is called the Begum Rokeya Gold Medal.

We live in a technologically advanced and modern world. The gender ratio of the world population is 1.01 with Fiji’s statistics being 1.03. This is the time for more women like Golap to come forward to keep this world in a better form. If we fail to do that, then this world wouldn’t remain a technologically developed world!


Professor ABM Shawkat Ali joined CS&IT department for the University of Fiji as a Professor in January 2014. Before joining us, Professor Ali was working as a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the Central Queensland University.

He has received his PhD in Information Technology from Clayton School of Information Technology, Monash University in 2005.

His research interests include Computational Intelligence, Data Mining, Smart Grid, Cloud Computing and Biomedical Engineering.

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