Volunteer Mobilization in Bangladesh

Highly trained volunteers commit themselves to a new future, empowered as a group to build the social capital they need to fulfill their vision of equality and prosperity.

As the mindset of dependency and gender discrimination begins to transform, and women and men commit themselves to a new future, The Hunger Project-Bangladesh empowers them to build the social capital they need to fulfill their vision. We do this through establishing four units of highly trained volunteers called Animators.

Each Animator unit is trained in how to organize themselves, facilitate group action and reporting, communicate and handle decision-making. The Hunger Project has discovered that volunteers are often most motivated and inspired by working alongside others who share similar interests and characteristics. To date, more than 170,000 Animators have been trained in Bangladesh; 40% of them were women.

Volunteers are organized along the following lines:

Unit 1: Animators are grassroots volunteers, so named for their ability to move their fellow villagers to action. Their role is to continue mobilizing their communities independent of Hunger Project staff. The Hunger Project recruits these Animators from among the most committed and motivated people who attend the VCA Workshops. In each Union we train a critical mass of approximately 150 Animators. Our intensive four-day training grounds them deeply in the principles of rights-based, bottom-up development and gender equality. Animators meet monthly in their area, and more than 10,000 gather each year for a national conference. In 2013, 3,308 women and men received Animator Training in a 3-day workshop.

Unit 2: Women Leaders are women whom The Hunger Project trains intensively in legal and reproductive rights. They are held in high regard by their fellow villagers and play a key role in reaching the most subjugated women in their Unions – those who are not allowed to venture outside their household and therefore cannot be reached by other Hunger Project trainings and workshops. Women Leaders awaken these confined women to their legal and reproductive rights and engage them in improving their lives. Women Leaders also reach beyond their Unions through their membership in the national Enlightened Women’s Network, where they exert their influence on higher levels of government. During 2013, 462 new Women Leaders were trained in an intensive three-day residential course. To date, we have trained 5,795 Women Leaders.

Unit 3: Youth Leaders bring the creativity and leadership of the youth population to the forefront while stimulating a sense of social responsibility in more than 100,000 students nationwide. Together, they meet monthly in chapters across the country – planning activities to improve their communities with an emphasis on literacy and education. During 2013, 1,290 new Youth Leaders were trained. To date, over 20,000 Bangladeshi youth have been trained as Youth Leaders.

Unit 4: Participatory Action Researchers (PARs) are volunteers from the most impoverished segments of each Union. They gather together and gain self-empowerment by taking a census of conditions they face, identifying life obstacles, developing comprehensive strategies and implementing plans in order to build lives of self-reliance. To date, 2,140 PAR facilitators have received training in a 3-day workshop in Bangladesh, 50% of whom were women.

A primary activity of Animators is to mobilize and lead Ward Action Teams, which bring together all the volunteer units so they may work together to advocate for change at the Union Council level. Each Ward Action Team includes seven Animators, two Women Leaders, five Youth Leaders, one Participatory Action Researcher and one Union Council member. The Ward Action Team serves as a focal point where the motivation, energies and leadership of the people converge with the resources of local government and non-governmental organizations.