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100 bottles of (earning a) living water in Bangladesh

How Shushanto and Rheka in Bangladesh are paying for their children’s education with water (and help from Tearfund).

Written by Tarryn Pegna | 08 Feb 2024

Shushanto, a man in a pale T-shirt, and Rheka, a woman with long, dark hair and wearing glasses and a brightly coloured outfit, stand smiling with one of their sons stood between them.

Shushanto and Rheka in Bangladesh have been able to pay for their children’s education by running a small business supplying water. They received training and finance support from Tearfund’s Transforming Communities programme (also known as CCT). Credit: Amit Rudro/Tearfund

John Shushanto Mondol and his wife Rekha have two sons and one daughter. And with the help of Tearfund’s Transforming Communities training, they’re managing to make sure their children get the education they need to give them greater opportunities in life.

‘Growing up, I was very poor,’ says Shushanto. ‘I used to live close to starvation and I grew up with a lot of struggles. My father was a fisherman and my mother was a housewife.’

Supplying the future

Although things have often been difficult for Shushanto and Rheka, they’ve been able to afford to pay for their children’s studies by supplying water to homes, shops and factories.

‘My daughter took her intermediate exam (A levels) this year, the eldest son is doing his first year of a bachelor's in social work, and the youngest son is studying in fifth grade,’ Shushanto tells us proudly. Rheka shares his pride. ‘My son is a very brilliant student,’ she says.

‘I think I would not be able to meet the family's food and clothing without this help and I would not be able to educate my son.’
Rheka Mondol, Bangladesh

The family has faced some very challenging times. ‘Some years ago, when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer,’ says Rheka, ‘our financial situation became terrible. My son was little then, so I could not give time to the store [that the family ran to earn a living]. With no other choice of work, my husband took a job as a labourer for a water company. Through that, he made some good connections and started to supply water – on a small scale – using a rickshaw.

‘We did not have a motorised bike at that stage and we only had a few containers to transport the water. My eldest son was in the 8th grade then – 14 years old. He used to help by carrying up to ten 20-litre water bottles in a foot-powered, engineless rickshaw [driven with a bicycle without a motor]. He did a lot of hard work! That’s where our business started. Now it is helping to feed our family and to educate our children.’

Bible studies and business building

Shushanto and Rheka came into contact with Tearfund through a Bible study group at their church. Along with Bible-based training, they received financial support to buy 100 containers to carry the water supply. They have also become part of a group that saves together so that members can take easy-to-repay loans. This has made it possible for them to buy a motorised bike (van) to carry the water.

‘I think I would not be able to meet the family's food and clothing without this help and I would not be able to educate my son,’ says Rheka. ‘For a year, my husband has not been able to get any other work, so we are surviving on this water supply business.’

Shushanto and Rheka speak openly about their faith and the lessons they have taken from the Transforming Communities (also known as CCT) Bible studies. And they are not the only ones who have seen the fruit of this work.

Transforming communities through the local church

Pastor James Asit Biswas is one of the pastors at their church. Since he first came into contact with Tearfund, he’s been instrumental in helping to see the CCT/Transforming Communities training and support implemented in forty churches so far, with plans to increase that number.

Pastor Asit wears a blue shirt and smiles broadly for the camera.

Pastor James Asit Biswas has helped churches like the one where Shushanto and Rheka are members to get connected to Tearfund’s Transforming Communities training (also known as CCT). Credit: Amit Rudro/Tearfund

He says, ‘Through CCT and Tearfund support, we’ve been able to help people in their need. We have also run social activities such as medical camps, health awareness programmes, and cleanliness campaigns through the local congregation.

‘We’ve seen members who were previously unable to speak in front of others have the confidence to speak, and even preach the gospel [in church]. We’ve also seen a change in their hearts.

‘And through Bible study, they have experienced spiritual and family development.

A place for all to participate

‘One of the special advantages of Bible study is that everyone can take part. In church, a pastor or priest preaches and the rest listen, but in Bible study, everyone can participate. This way of doing things has been accepted by the people in our communities and we’re trying to spread this activity to all the church congregations by connecting with Tearfund.

‘Many poor people live in our congregations. If we can help their children with their education, they will benefit greatly. The financial support that has been given to some families to start (or grow) small businesses. This is very positive, but it needs to be increased a little more according to the current market. It’s very difficult to start a business with the money that is donated. It would be very good if the amount of money could be increased a little more and more families could be helped. So I want to pray that this activity will grow even more.’

Read more here about why we love the church and how it's the answer to poverty.

Pray for Transforming Communities

    • Thank God for the many churches and families that have already seen the fruits of transformation through Bible-based training. Pray for ongoing encouragement and resources and that the work will flourish.
    • Pray for families facing poverty and ask God to bring provision and solutions. Pray that local churches will be at the forefront of helping to bring transformation in their communities and give people new opportunities to thrive.
    • Lift up Shushanto and Rheka and the other families in their community. Pray that God will bless them and their children and that lives will be transformed and released from poverty for generations to come.

Written by

Written by  Tarryn Pegna


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