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Himalaya

Day 121: Dhaka

Michael Palin - HimalayaThe women have three years to pay back the loan, and to prevent the whole scheme suffering the fate of well-intentioned causes in a cruelly commercial world, the interest is a hefty 20
per cent.

The results, as Naila explains to me, as we drive out to the countryside some 25 miles (40 km) from Dhaka, have been impressive. Grameen Phone has led to the empowerment of women and the empowerment of local village communities.

Not only are villagers able to talk with family members abroad, but villages themselves are able to talk to each other. They can compare prices of basic goods like seed and fertilizer and avoid being ripped off by unscrupulous suppliers.

'They can't be hoodwinked,' as Naila puts it.

Watched by a small caravan of Grameen advisers and feeling rather like a royal visitor, I'm led by Naila, wearing a smart orange and yellow shalwar, black, medium-heeled, leather shoes and rolled umbrella, along a narrow mud path between the fields. Pumps chug away, irrigating the rice paddies, and families of ducks are scudding about among the young shoots. Naila finishes a call and snaps her mobile shut.

'I love my work,' she says, steadying herself to cross an unsympathetic patch of wet, sticky mud, 'I love it so much.'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 121: Dhaka
  • Country/sea: Bangladesh
  • Place: Dhaka
  • Book page no: 274

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