Luxembourg Ministry Impressed by the Resilience of Marginalised Communities in Bangladesh

An 11-member delegation led by the minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg visits Friendship’s interventions in the river islands of Bangladesh

The Luxembourg minister (centre) along with his team, as well as Runa Khan, Marc Elvinger et al from Friendship at the entrance of the Friendship Centre in Gaibandha. ©Friendship
by Friendship News Desk
May 7, 2023

The people of the Jamuna-Brahmaputra river islands are isolated from the mainland, leading to a long-prevailing, multi-faceted cycle of poverty stemming from their lack of access to infrastructure and services. Despite every circumstance however, these communities have made great strides towards a better quality of life in recent years. Working in close coordination with the Government of Bangladesh, Friendship, a social purpose organisation, takes pride in having contributed its share to the progress achieved since 2002 in being committed to Saving Lives, Poverty Alleviation, Climate Adaptation and Empowerment.  

An 11-member delegation from the Luxembourg Ministry for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs led by minister Franz Fayot visited these sandbar islands in Gaibandha and Kurigram districts on April 28 and 29, 2023. Luxembourg has been providing substantial support to Friendship’s programs in those areas over the last 15 years.

A cheerful moment between the minister and Tawhid, a young boy who had mobility issues and received medical and rehabilitative assistance from Friendship. ©Friendship

During the two-day visit, the delegation witnessed the conditions in the chars (river islands), met with the local communities and observed the challenges faced by them; and their resilience, determination and ingenuity in dealing with these circumstances by making the best possible use of the support that the communities are benefitting from. Among the visitors were Christophe Schiltz, director of Cooperation (Luxembourg), H.E. Peggy Frantzen, designated ambassador of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to India along with multiple international journalists. Runa Khan, founder and Marc Elvinger, chair of Friendship Luxembourg, and other senior Friendship staff accompanied the delegation in the field.

The minister addressed a Friendship secondary school class in Batikhamari. ©Friendship

Speaking about his visit, the honourable minister stated, “By visiting the projects of Friendship in the north of Bangladesh, I was able to see first-hand the positive impact our long-standing partnership has had on the local population over the years. The work and passion that Friendship puts into implementing their projects are exemplary and I am glad that we can count on such a reliable partner to support the people of Bangladesh.”

An interview with Franz Fayot on his visit to the chars in Bangladesh

Runa Khan said, “The Luxembourg Government has been a long-time partner of Friendship. They have been among those invaluable partners who truly imbue our values and try to deeply understand the needs of the communities we work with—the type of partner who enables our work to be truly values-driven and needs-based. Therefore, I am pleased and honoured that Franz Fayot and his delegation have taken the time to visit these communities to whom we have a shared commitment to serving.”

Franz Fayot, Runa Khan and Marc Elvinger stand next to the newly-installed plaque at a Friendship floating hospital. ©Friendship

Marc Elvinger added, “Over the 15 last years, during which we have enjoyed very substantial and always increasing support from the Luxembourg government, we have been able to build a very strong relationship. It was thus only the more important to me that the minister and his team had the opportunity to visit our programmes in the field and thereby get first-hand confirmation that the trust they have put in our work all along was not misplaced.”

Throughout the visit, the delegation visited various Friendship programmes co-funded by the Luxembourg government, including a hospital ship as part of Friendship’s three-tier health care system, a raised plinth cluster village, a solar village, a Friendship primary and secondary school, as well as programmes for agricultural support, vocational training, inclusive citizenship and char theatre.

Minister Franz Fayot in the front row seat at a char theatre performance in Batikhamari. ©Friendship
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