Rongdi Jib, now 40, faced a life with few prospects.
In the mid-1970s, Bangladesh was a new nation. Once under the rule of British India, the country formerly known as East Pakistan emerged in 1971 after a war of independence that left 300,000 civilians dead.
Life in the wake of such upheaval was difficult for the many people in Bangladesh living in poverty—including Rongdi, who is known as Biswajit. “I was born in a low-income family, so my life was very uncertain,” he says. “My father was a day laborer. It was very hard for him to provide even daily meals for us, so it was an extra burden to pay my basic educational expenses.”
Biswajit’s family lived in Durgapur, in southwest Bangladesh. The town sits amid a tangle of rivers and tributaries. The low-lying land is prone to natural disasters like flooding and cyclones.
After his eldest sister married, Biswajit moved in with her because she and her husband could provide enough food for him. That was where he grew up. “The turning point of my life was when World Vision registered me as a sponsored child in 1981,” Biswajit says. He was in first grade.
Another milestone came in 1984, when his World Vision sponsor, a doctor, traveled to meet him at the organization’s national headquarters in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city. “As I was a young boy, I was excited to meet my sponsor and get chocolates, toys, and several drawing books from him,” Biswajit says. “He took many photos and sent them to me later when he got back to his country.”
His sponsor’s visit sparked an eagerness to learn and stand on his own two feet. “People used to ask me what I dreamed of being,” Biswajit says. “I answered that I wanted to be a teacher, although I knew it would be tough for me. But I think it was God’s plan that made my dream come true. Many people’s lives have changed through World Vision’s programs, not only mine. World Vision taught me how to dream.”
After graduation, Biswajit followed his dream of a career in education. Today, he’s a teacher in an independent high school, where he is a popular staff member, sports coach, and cultural events organizer. In a country where nearly a million children aren’t in primary school, he’s making a difference in the lives of his students—as well as his family. Biswajit and his wife, a nurse at a hospital, have two daughters, both of whom are in primary school.
In 2015, World Vision phased out its presence in Durgapur. The local community was ready to sustain the work World Vision began many years ago: agriculture and husbandry training; workshops on nutrition and cooking; women’s savings groups; midwife training; educational support; and more. Sponsorship, the bedrock of change in Durgapur and other communities, has a lasting effect in Bangladesh through the lives of sponsored children like Biswajit.
“My family will be forever grateful to World Vision. I will always cherish World Vision in my memories,” he says. “May God always use this organization for the welfare of poor and vulnerable children.”
Story and photography by Xavier Sku