For two months visitors to NLA’s galleries have been able to explore a project in rural Bangladesh which aims to address social and gender inequality, and on Friday we heard more about the experience from the project’s mastermind, Tumpa Husna Yasmin Fellows, in an NLA lunchtime talk.
The Women’s Literacy and Healthcare Centre in Rajapur is the brainchild of Tumpa, Co-Founder and Trustee of the Mannan Foundation Trust. Tumpa set up the foundation in honour of her late father who was born not far from where the Centre now stands, and a significant tribute it is.
Not only does the Centre provide free health care for the whole community and offer income generating and literacy skills for local women, but the team of London-based volunteers worked with the local community from the outset, ensuring they were involved in the design process and in the final build.
The original concept was designed and redesigned in response to local needs and in order to provide the best space that could be built utilising local techniques and skills. Women were employed to make the rammed earth bricks, whilst local labour installed them on site in order to overcome cultural barriers to women working with men.
The impact will be measured as the Centre is used, with the curriculum changing regularly, but the successes can be seen in the photographs of the project’s development and can be heard in Tumpa’s eloquent and passionate retelling of a rather amazing story.
We don’t often get the chance to look at rural Bangladesh here at New London Architecture, but for this project I’m really glad we did. This is perhaps something our growing International programme can do more of in the future; watch this space.
By Lucie Murray
Senior Programme Curator