Every year during the monsoon season, the rivers and streams of Bangladesh swell and inundate much of the country. Up to two-thirds of the nation experiences extreme flooding, cutting off transportation routes and closing schools. The non-profit, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha ensures children still have access to education by taking the classroom to them, regardless of the weather. Solar-powered boats collect students from areas around Chalanbeel in northwest, dock at a common location, and return the pupils back home once the day is over.
At 55 feet long and 11 feet wide, each of the 55 boats is capable of holding 30 students, and is outfitted with solar panels, a laptop connected to the Internet, and a library that provides basic primary education through the fourth grade. Parents and villagers also receive instruction on the floating classrooms on nutrition, health, women’s rights, climate change adaptation, hygiene, and sustainable farming. In addition to the schools, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha runs a fleet of clinics that bring doctors and paramedics to cut-off areas, and run workshops that help convert kerosene lamps into solar lanterns.
Since beginning their work in 2002, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha has served nearly 70,000 children. The organization brings vital information and care to the poorest and most vulnerable of Bangladesh’s population. While most NGO’s do not venture into the northwest because of the danger of the monsoons, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha provides the country’s citizens with the power to learn and adapt with their ever-changing environment.