Government providing brick houses to ethnic Santal
by Sumon Corraya

In the village of Chonguria, members of the local tribal community are full of joy for the first houses built under a housing programme launched by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the Year of Mujib. “Every year my shack was destroyed by the storm,” said one beneficiary. “I hope this house will last a long time now.”

 


Gaibandha (AsiaNews) – A group of 50 ethnic Santal in Chonguria, a village in Gaibandha district,  received a brick house from the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. The beneficiaries include 12 Christians.

The initiative is part of a national programme for the distribution of 70,000 new houses for more than 880,000 people that the Bangladeshi government launched on the occasion of the Year of Mujib.

The celebrations include a series of events marking the centenary of the birth of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh.

Overall, some 3,500 houses will go to members of tribal communities, half of them Christians.

In Chonguria the gift was welcomed with joy. “I lived in a dilapidated house,” said Amra Mardi, a 70-year-old Christian Santal widow. “During the rainy season I couldn't properly sleep. Now I have a new home.”

Bahula Hasda, another ethnic Santal woman, thanked Prime Minister Hasina. “Every year my shack was destroyed by the storm. I repaired it and the following year the same thing happened again. I hope this house will last a long time now.”

The village of Chonguria is located in the Catholic parish of Mariampur, Diocese of Dinajpur.

Father Samson Marandi, who is also a Santal, is full of joy for the new houses. “It is a good initiative by the government,” he told AsiaNews. “Christians in need will benefit greatly.”

Many people in Bangladesh are homeless and landless due to soil erosion caused by river floods.

“No one will be left homeless,” Prime Minister Hasina promised on 23 January, as she inaugurated the Mujib Year programme.

Each new house has two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a veranda with an estimated cost for the government of 175,000 taka (about US$ 2,000).

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