Revisiting Bangladesh: A Learning Journey with Room to Read, Uplift and BRAC

Published on November 30, 2016

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Two years after the Erol Foundation first visited Bangladesh, co-founder Sébastien Lépinard made the journey to observe its Equality of Chances grantees in action.  During his travels, Seb spent time with Room to Read as well as Uplift implementing partner BRAC.  He was joined by several other philanthropists and potential donors, under the leadership of Amplifier Strategies.

With their first stop in Dhaka, the group visited Room to Read and its work in the city’s urban slums.  Similar to Erol’s current Room to Read grant in Chattisgarh, India, the Dhaka program provides a pathway to literacy for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

The group met with Room to Read’s local leadership at a government primary school where the organization delivers literacy and girls’ education programming.  Room to Read currently partners with more than 600 schools across Bangladesh, which has one of the lowest adult literacy rates in Southeast Asia.

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The remainder of the visit was spent exploring the partnership between Uplift, a signature initiative of Erol, and it’s on-the-ground implementing partner BRAC.  While in Dhaka, they visited BRAC headquarters for an overview of the partnership and to gain a deeper understanding of the technology landscape, receiving a presentation on the industry-leading platform Impact Atlas.

The following days included site visits to BRAC’s Targeting the Ultra Poor program, through which it plays a key role in mitigating and eradicating poverty in Bangladesh.  They were able to observe its impact in Dhaka’s urban setting, and then traveled to Khulna for field visits in the surrounding rural villages.

Where the group was most able to see and feel the impact of BRAC’s programming was when they met with the participants firsthand.  They were able to hear the stories of women whose lives were completely transformed by BRAC’s approach to ultra poverty, setting them and their families on a new path toward financial independence.

Seb and his fellow travelers left Bangladesh with a deeper understanding of just how complex an issue poverty is, which therefore requires a sophisticated set of solutions – taking into account technology, access to markets, government systems, climate resilience, food security, personal safety, childhood education, gender roles, social inclusion and so much more.

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