Dipshikha: Promoting Community Development

Initiated in 1978 by a group of social workers, schoolteachers and students in the village of Rudrapur, the rural development organization Dipshikha defines itself as a “non-formal education, training and research society for village development”. Taking the name from the two Bengali words Dip and Shikha, meaning ‘lamp’ and ‘flame’, Dipshikha continues to bring much needed light to people who are willing to help themselves with social, cultural and economic development. Among their many projects Dipshikha is committed to providing education to open up the doors of literacy for those who have lacked opportunities for learning, thereby offering endless opportunities to gain knowledge and improve their socio-economic circumstances. With the viewpoint that where there is a sense of brotherhood, there will be peace and justice, Dipshikha promotes respect, kindness and cooperation in the communities the organization is involved with.

From small beginnings in the village of Rudrapur, located in the Birol Upazila of the Dinajpur district, Dipshikha continues to grow to meet the needs of the people, and is now working in seven upazilas, located in two districts, with a membership of close to 9,000 people, and assisting up to 7,900 families. Dipshikha focuses on helping people who are motivated to help themselves, with a view to helping individuals to build confidence, accept responsibility for their own livelihoods, and develop skills and to lift themselves and their families out of difficult economic circumstances. To create unity and solidarity in communities, the organization assists in forming associations related to specific concerns, such as farmers’ associations and women’s associations, as well as addressing issues regarding good governance and human rights.

One of the notable educational projects Dipshikha was involved in is the METI handmade school in Rudrapur, which was built by the community using ecologically sound building practices and materials. The school was the recipient of the 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

The impact of aid from Dipshikha on the lives of individuals is reflected in the story of Taslima, a young widow raising two young children on her own. She started off on her own initiative, raising ducklings for sale. After successfully raising two flocks of ducklings, Taslima realized she could make a living from this activity, which would relieve her of the burden of working as a day laborer and offer her children a future. With the help of a succession of loans from Dipshikha, and a lot of effort on her behalf, Taslima has been able to realize her dream of providing for her children. This type of success story can be repeated countless times over with the aid of volunteers and donations supporting Dipshikha, which in turn supports communities in their quest for a better future.