Mustafa Kamal is a master trainer in AOB’s agriculture project. He travels the district, visiting homes, schools, churches, and community centers.
Q: Whom are the people you are targeting with your agriculture training?
A: I visit poor communities where people own no farmland. Usually these people are desperately searching for ways to feed and educate their children.
Q: We sometimes hear that people are “set in their ways” and unable to change from the ways they’ve always done things. Do you experience that?
A: People want to learn. They may have simple minds, but if they’re willing to learn and willing to do honest work, I’m certainly willing to work with them on sustainable projects.
Q: What do you offer to meet people’s needs?
A: I want to give hope and skills. Actually, even the smallest of houses can have squash vines on the walls of the kitchen and outhouse. A rose bush looks lovely, and then the family can sell roses for 5 Taka (4 cents) each. I suggest replanting cuttings from flowering shrubs like gardenia or hibiscus; they can then sell small starter-shrubs for 10 Taka (7 cents) each. Naturally, a fruit tree is great for family nutrition and for marketing the fruits. And poor families can raise chickens, rabbits, a goat or cow.
Q: Do you travel alone?
A: I am the main teacher, but if I’m invited to a women’s group or widow’s home, my wife or daughters accompany me. They can tell stories about their own kitchen garden. The ladies enjoy hearing from them.
Q: What is your biggest joy in this line of work?
A: It’s encouraging when other non-government organizations come to observe and learn from our agriculture projects. But I must say that even better than that, I see that my daughters are learning to care for others.