Meet Bithika, also known as Biti.
Her smile lights up a room and her eyes tell stories of friendship, loyalty and overcoming.
She's the kind of person you can go to for anything, a natural yet unassuming leader. Biti is gentle in nature, humble, quietly spoken and a true visionary all in one. For the last four years, she’s been passionately leading her community into a better future, implementing game-changing hygiene and sanitation practices that have transformed the community of Gung Henchi, Bangladesh.
Growing up in a community affected by multiple natural disasters has built her tenacity for life and a solutions focused attitude.
“I’m able to speak well to others, to figure out if they are facing a problem and provide them with the proper solution,” she says. “When everyone saw I had all that in me, they chose me to be the president [of the women’s wash platform]”
When we sat down with Biti, she explained how challenging life used to be for the women in her community.
“After cyclone Aila hit in 2009, we suffered a lot as we did not have access to safe water or healthy sanitation,” she says. “We women did not have any source of income; we were completely dependent on our husbands for that.”
Women would spend 4 to 5 hours a day walking to collect water, Biti adds.
Lacking financial independence and losing hours daily to collect water, Biti had no time to pursue her passions, or spend the quality time with her family that she desired. She would often sacrifice buying items for herself or her son.
“I was completely dependant on my husband. At times, I would not even ask him for money because I did not have the courage,” Biti says.
In 2014 Thankyou funded water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs in Biti’s village in Bangladesh, through our impact partner, Oxfam. The program’s aim is to reach the most remote regions in Bangladesh and provide safe water access, toilets and hygiene training. These programs not only provide solutions for the local community, they train women to build and maintain the water system – a role usually held by men.
With easily accessible safe water, Biti and her community got their time back; people started businesses and could spend quality time with their families, taking charge of their own futures.
“Since the program started, I got to learn how to sew. Now I sell pieces of clothes, which I sew by myself. Both me and my husband are earning now. I think we are quite financially well off [compared to] before and we are able to build a better future for our child” says Biti.
Biti has dreams for her family's future. She dreams of sending her son to school, for him to grow to become “a good human”, to renovate and occasionally buy herself a new dress.