An Innovation that Changed People’s Life

An innovative idea changed many lives in the country of Bangladesh where people did not have access to electricity or telephone, and the nearest health-care facility was hours away. Education in such a situation remained a dream. Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, a non-profit organization started by Mohammed Rezwan, turned local boats into schools using solar power and made education, internet, solar lamps, health clinics, and new farming techniques, accessible to many.

Where there’s more water than land, boats replace buses, and with rising sea levels, low-income Bangladeshi students have difficulty getting to school altogether. Pushed to inaccessible riverside settlements that lack basic infrastructure, students often can’t get to school due to monsoon flooding. Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, a non-profit organization started by Mohammed Rezwan, rides the rising tides with solar-powered floating schools. Combining the best of traditional boat design and modern sustainable practices, the organization’s 54 boats have been operating since 2002 and have served more than 90,000 families.

The boats have been outfitted with waterproof roofs, solar panels, computers, high-speed Internet and solar lamps, which allow students and their families to study or work at night and save money on kerosene lamps, which are traditionally used but smoky and expensive. Rezwan gives the lamps as incentives for top students. This doubles as advertising—the sale of these lamps helps fund and sustain Rezwan’s NGO. The floating schools were so popular, Rezwan added library and health clinic boats as well. It’s not just the school-aged who benefit from this armada of enlightenment: Women and girls, who are often denied traditional education opportunities, can find out about sustainable farming techniques, health and sanitation tips that they can share with their community. With a little creative thinking, Rezwan has turned water — once a divider — into a channel for knowledge and communication.

*The article is taken from NextBillion blog.

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