Hunger looms for Nazmul's family
When the Bangladeshi government closed all workplaces, Nazmul Huda’s life changed overnight. A painter paid on a day-by-day basis, he was now out of work and the money he had would only buy food for a week. Now, he doesn’t know how he will be able to provide for his family of seven.
Nazmul Huda lives with his wife and their two small children. The household also includes his parents and younger brother, and they all depend on Nazmul’s income.
When Bangladesh workplaces closed at the end of March, many people working in the construction sector were immediately left without an income. Most construction workers are employed and paid on a day-by-day basis and they quickly ran into major difficulties. Like Huda, many workers have large families to support, usually five or six people.
They share kitchen and toilet with others
“We’re having to live on borrowed money now,” says 29-year-old Huda. “Our youngest child is only four months old, and my wife needs medication for her diabetes. The situation makes us feel completely helpless”.
Huda normally earns just under SEK 2,000 per month. A third of his salary goes to pay for the room that the family rents in a simple sheet metal building. They share a kitchen, toilet and bathroom with five other families who also live in the house.
Are raising awareness of workers' rights
Huda has previously had contact with Diakonia’s partner organization Safety and Rights Society (SRS), which for many years has been helping to make workers aware of the rights they have at work. The organization also gives workers information about how to protect themselves against sickness and accidents. Employers in Bangladesh often fail to respect the rights of their employees, who often work in miserable conditions. For example, employees have to pay for their own protective equipment, which means most are forced to work without it.
The food will last for three weeks
Diakonia has given SRS additional funding to support unemployed construction workers and their families during the coronavirus crisis. Families are given food parcels containing staples such as rice, pulses and potatoes. The food is intended to last at least three weeks, in the hope that the situation will have improved by the end of that time.
“We need all the help we can get – we feel powerless.” says Huda. “We adults can manage without food, but my children can’t”.