Young Activist Played Significant Role for Social Mobilization on Environmental Issues in Rajshahi City
Ms. Sabittre Hembram is a young ethnic development worker living in Rajshahi City, Bangladesh. She is active in her community, and is the vice-president of Indigenous Student Council, President of the Rudo Youth Group and President of the Rahala Rsimil Dance Group, all of which are indigenous youth and cultural groups. She is also academically accomplished, having completed a Master’s degree in Economics from Rajshahi College under the National University in Bangladesh.
For many like Ms. Sabittre, involvement in their community is foundational, but there is not often the knowledge of how to effectively advocate for one’s cause. The USAID Promoting Advocacy and Rights (PAR) project has strove to fill this knowledge gap, providing different capacity-building initiatives for Bangladeshi CSOs since August 2018. In July of 2019, PAR organized a thematic Civic Engagement Forum (CEF) in Rajshahi City to discuss environmental issues. Ms. Sabittre Hembram attended this CEF, as well as a CEF in 2018.
During this CEF Ms. Sabittre highlighted the issue of ethnic minority people and learned during the workshop how to mobilize local resources to advocate for the ethnic minority population. She also developed a plan of action during this CEF, seeking to combat environmental pollution in Rajshahi region through her involvement in the local youth community and through her various organizations. After the Forum, Ms. Sabittre worked to fund her advocacy campaign and received funds from the Rajshahi City Corporation and a pharmaceutical company to mobilize citizens and build awareness about the ongoing dengue crisis in the city. She led other ethnic and youth representatives who had attended PAR events in distributing over 5,000 Information Education Communication (IEC)/Behavior Change Communication (BCC) materials in Rajshahi to raise awareness for the dengue outbreak. She met with the Rajshahi City Corporation Mayor in September of 2019 to submit litigation regarding dengue and environmental issues in their city. Ms. Sabittre brought other young activists with her, who described the situation of ethnic community life and livelihood in more detail.
Ms. Sabittre also started a movement for clean water and sanitation awareness campaign in schools for sustainable environment. She planted trees in the schools with the support of local donors and authorities in Rajshahi City. She mentioned that attending the PAR CEF inspired her and the knowledge she gained at the forum was used to advocate for the burning issues in her community.