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Heidi Eisenhauer

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Off to Bangladesh in April

Firstly I would like to thank you for all your support and inparation over the years! I have really knuckled down and made a hermit of myself these past couple years. I have finished one phase of school and applied for what seems to be a million positions. I think the universe has given me just the opportunity that I was looking for.

On February 25th, I got accepted to the VSO Canada programme
VSO Canada is the Canadian partner of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). VSO is an international development agency that works through volunteers. They promote volunteering to fight global poverty, by supporting people to share skills, creativity and learning with communities around the world. Through personal commitment and practical action, volunteers help build a fairer world.

VSO Canada contributes to VSO's vision, purpose and values by recruiting, training and matching volunteers from North America to placements that meet the requests of our overseas partners. VSO volunteers work in partnership with people in more than 30 developing countries, contributing to development goals in Education, HIV and AIDS, Disability, Health and Social Well-being, Secure Livelihoods and Participation and Governance. VSO Canada also contributes to innovative volunteering initiatives such as Youth Volunteering, National Volunteering and Business Partnerships.

On Friday March 3rd, I got a call from VSO and SHUSHILAN accepted me as their new Programme Development Advisor and I will be heading to Khulna, Bangladesh mid April pending receiving my country visa approval.

Shushilan is an incredible organization which works in the areas of Economic Development of Resource Poor Community, Sustainable Environmental Resource Management, Empowerment of Resource Poor Community Especially Poor Women, Human Rights & Good Governance, and Capacity Building. The majority of the work will be in English but I will be doing a month+ of Bangla training.

This placement is very rushed as I am replacing a volunteer who became ill. I am very busy with training and preparations to go overseas. I want to thank you for all your support and inspiration in helping me prepare for this position. I will be gone for a year, with a one month vacation in India if all goes according to plan. I will be sure to send you my contact information when I am settled in. I will have Internet access in the office.

This is a voluntary placement. I will be receiving room and board for my contributions. I have been asked to fund raise to support my voluntary efforts. I will send more information on this in the coming month.

Thank you,
Heidi Eisenhauer

Location of Placement:

Khulna is a city, just north of an international port, Mongla. Consequently it is Bangladesh's third largest city with a great deal of industrial and commercial development. It a bustling and busy city, with people from differing backgrounds. From the rich and powerful elite of the city to the rickshaw pullers and day labourers. There are many NGO workers based here and a large army base just outside the city. The presence of a university on the outskirts of the city and many colleges, means there is a lively and active student population, although it is mostly male students who can be seen around the city. The city has grown out along the Rupsa river and stretches for about 16kms. Once across the Rupsa river, (a short ferry journey) it is possible to get out of the city quite quickly to the historical temples and mosques of Bagerhat which date back to 15th century.

More on the Shushilan Programme:

1. Economic Development of Resource Poor Community

The main objective of this program is to generate initial capital for the rural poor. The weekly savings of group members and credit disbursed serves as initial capital for micro enterprise development. The activities under this program are as follows:

a. Group savings:
b. Micro credit:
c. Small-scale Rural Enterprise Development:

2. Sustainable Environmental Resource Management

The principal objective of sustainable environmental resource management program is to ensure food and livelihood security of the Sundarbans dependent resource poor eco-sensitive community of the southwest coastal region.

Sustainable resource management program involves multi-dimensional activities. The initiative involves strong advocacy component with specific focus on sustainable agriculture, conservation of biodiversity and introduction of sustainable agriculture in diverse agro-eco zone especially in saline area are essential components of Shushilan's resource management.

a. Soil resource
I. Homestead gardening:
II. Sustainable Agriculture:

  • Demonstration farm
  • Vegetables gardening
  • HYV rice seed production
  • Fish Culture
  • Poultry farm
  • IPM
  • Farmer cooperative
  • Saline tolerant agriculture
  • Indigenous knowledge based program
  • Technology uptake

b. Water resource

I. Surface Water:
II. Safe Water:
III. Aquaculture

c. Wetland resource:

I. Eco-demo farm:

d. Forest resource:

I. Homestead plantation:
II. Roadside plantation:
III. Bee-keeping:

e. Wind resource

I. Electricity Generation

f. Disaster management:

I. Disaster preparedness:
II. Relief and rehabilitation:

3. Empowerment of Resource Poor Community Especially Poor Women

The existing socio-political institutions including political parties belong to the influential and rich section of the society and are dominated by the propertied class. The poor have no access to these institutions and hence they are deprived of the facilities provided by the state and the society.

The resource poor community particularly the women needs an alternative institution of their own as a bargaining platform and as an instrument of socio economic empowerment. With this aim in view, the specific activities taken up by Shushilan are as follows:

a. Alternative institution

I. Group formation:
II. Federations build up:

b. Education program

I. Non-Formal Primary Education:
II. Functional Education:

c. Health

I. Primary Health Care:
II. Reproductive Health:
III. AIDS and Drugs:
IV. Safe Water:
V. Sanitation:

d. Diversification of livelihood options for women headed families

I. Road Maintenance:
II. Self-employment Generation:

4. Human Rights & Good Governance

All development issues ranging from sustainable natural resource management to human rights conservation are in essence related to good governance.

Ensuring socially disadvantaged, less privileged communities access to justice, common resources and existing socio-political institutions are some of the burning issues constituting Shushilan's mainstream agenda on good governance.

a. Strengthening Democratic Institution

I. Network for women UP members:
II. Network of youth clubs and journalists associations:
III. Sustainable resource management forum:

b. Access to social justice

II. Court case support:

c. Capacity building of UPs (LEBs)

d. Advocacy

Principal issues on which advocacy is carried out are consolidation of democratic institutions at grass roots, ownership of landless on commons, eco-specific land use pattern, ecologically inconsistent shrimp culture, bio-diversity conservation, woman, child trafficking and human rights etc.

I. Khas Land Movement.

e. Mass awareness program

Shushilan has taken up a mass awareness program on various issues of development. The principal program components are workshop, seminar, and national and international day observation

5. Capacity Building

Capacity building as one of Shushilan's mainstream agenda consists of two essential components:

a. Organizational capacity building

I. Human Resource development:
II. Technological Capacity Building:
III. Resource center development:
IV. Financial sustainability:

b. Capacity building of development partner:

I. Training:

  • Human resource development training:
  • Occupational skill development training:

II. Mass awareness program:

Cultural Program, Rally, Day observe, Workshop, Seminar, Dialogue, Poster, Leaflet, Booklet, Magazine, Hooding, Sticker etc.

Major Achievements:

  • The poor people have now realized the importance of alternative socio-political institution of their own. They are convinced that to get organized on a common platform is the first step towards empowerment and realization of rights. With this aim in view a few model organizations have been formed.
  • Rural capital generated through group savings on group members' own initiative.
  • The people of these villages are now convinced that gender equity is an essential prerequisite for socio-economic uplift of the community.
  • Establishment of an agricultural service center and eco-demo-farm has greatly contributed to action research and extension of eco-friendly farming system in the program area.
  • Close linkage has been set up with BRRI, BARI, BINA, SRDI & DAE for dissemination and extension of agriculture technology through training and field research in diverse agro ecosystem especially in saline zone.
  • Integration with people's movement for realization of basic rights has brought Shushilan to the focus of people's hopes and aspirations.
  • Shushilan is now in the process of institutionalization of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Committees to ensure social justice for socially disadvantage women community.
  • Shushilan, in course of its development initiatives, tempered a group of young and educated youth and infused them with ideology of social transformation through a tortuous process of subjective remolding. Dissemination of this concept of social transformation is strengthening peoples urge for a civil society.
  • Shushilan, through its environmental conservation program, is playing a vital role to slow down the process of bio-degradation and silent ecocide now in process in the locality.


Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
~ Henry Ford


When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality.
~ Joe Paterno


Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
~ Thomas Edison 


The nice thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side
~ Margaret Carty


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contact information

Please feel free to contact me:

Heidi Eisenhauer

  •        tel: +11 (416) 843-4466


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