A beautiful photobook shows vivid images of Bangladesh, with sales funding two projects that directly support Bangaldeshi communities vulnerable to climate change.
My name is Michael Chew, I’m a photographer, environmentalist and founding member of Bangladesh Peasant Solidarity Network and I've spent the last decade working to try to engage people in Melbourne to reduce our environmental and climate impacts.
Throughout this time I've had some little victories and plenty of head-banging moments! After one particularly lucid moment I realised that such work here is only half of the picture – the other half was told through the impacts of climate change on people least able to cope - on the other side of the world.
So when an opportunity arose to work in Bangladesh last year – population 150 million and at extreme climate risk – I jumped on it. Over the year there I saw firsthand these heart-rending impacts, from coastal villagers crying over their relatives lost in cyclones to urban slum dwellers who are facing increasing water shortages. Often I wished myself back in Australia and for my state of previous unawareness. But amongst the suffering there was also hope – not necessarily in the form of aid from rich countries or trade flows - but from the resilience of the people themselves:
Poor village women who had gathered together to rebuild their local bridge that had washed away; families living in slums who bravely took to the streets and faced the police to protest the clearing of their homes without notice; Indigenous people who take the stand to hold onto their traditional knowledge and crop varieties against all odds.
Before I left Bangladesh I made a promise to myself to share these stories with my own communities back home in Australia.
The Photogaphy Book
This gorgeous hardcover photography book shows a rich collection of these stories – of hope and despair, of the difficult realities of life and inspiring spirit to surmount them – from the nation of Bangladesh. The people and the land of this country come alive through vivid images, which are accompanied with brief background information, spread across 60 pages. A final section details inspiring groups working for change and avenues for support.
Also see the right hand panel for other offerings that you can make to support the project.
If you would like to see a draft preview of the book, it is here:
Currently I have 20,000+ photographs of Bangladesh taken over 2011-12 that I will be distilling down to the photobook in the next couple of weeks!
I will be returning to Dhaka in December to personally present the book to Bangladeshi organisations as a gift from Australia.
How your donation will make a difference
In buying this book or any of the other gifts listed, you are donating to two inspiring Bangladeshi organisations – Jaago Foundation and Bangladesh Krishok Federation who work tirelessly to address the devastating environmental and social impacts that are amplified by climate change. Out of the thousands of inspiring local groups working for social change, I was privileged to volunteer for them and was deeply impressed by their determination and outcomes.
Specifically, all profits from this fundraising campaign will be split between two projects:
1) Jaago Foundation - Funding urban slum children to attend schools in Dhaka to break the poverty cycle
2) Bangladesh Krishok Federation - Funding landless rural woman to train as grassroots organisers in Dhaka to empower their rural communities
These two communities – the urban slum population, and rural landless peasants, are extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts. Urbans slum communities bear the brunt of overcrowding, heat-stress, and water-shortages. Landless peasants face decreasing crop yields and forced migration from flooded and drought effected fields. Landless women are specifically more vulnerable to these hazards – since they often have economic reliance on men and face gender-based discrimination and exploitation.
For inquries regarding the project or offers, please contact me at:
Specifically, the campaign tipping point goal of
$3000 will raise enough funds to send 3 children to school for 2 years, and send 3 rural peasant organisers to Dhaka for 3 months intensive residential training (computers, language, and advocacy).
The dream goal of $12000 would give 5 children 5 years of education, train a group of 10 rural organisers for 6 months, as well as better support for international volunteers.
A note about money
In the design of this campaign, I was told by many people to include a fee to cover some of the long hours I will be spending on this project. So in response to this, I will be
taking a fee from the project – but I thought it was only fair to take what a Bangladeshi person might be paid. The minimum monthly wage of a Bangladeshi worker is approximately $0.75/hour when adjusted for purchasing power parity.* So this is what I will
pay myself for the design and production of the photography book and other campaign offers. There are millions of unemployed Bangladeshi’s who would like to be given a chance to work for this wage.
*Based on ILO 2010 data for $58/month wage. Article. ILO Report.
Full cost breakdown is below, (printing and other offers are not listed as they are covered by the sale price)
Jaago Project 1225
BKF Project 1225
Michael's wage at
for 9 days design work
(PPP adjusted) 54
Contingency costs 96
Please note we will endeavour to get people's gifts out to them as soon as humanely possible but cannot guarantee delivery times!
Bangladeshi Krishok Federation (BKF)
This peasant-run organisation works for the rights of landless people, for agrarian reform and for food sovereignty in Bangladesh together with its sister organisation, Bangladesh
Kishani Sabha (BKS). They work to secure the rights of peasants through direct empowerment – running workshops about their legal rights, training them to speak out about injustices facing them, organising public demonstrations and forums that can amplify
their voices. While I was in Bangladesh I met so many inspiring organisers from BKF, working tirelessly, mostly without pay or funding. The head office is a cramped room in a crumbling highrise in Dhaka’s east side. They make sure a tiny amount of funds
goes a long way! The venture group BPSN has been formed to build support for BKF and BKS here in Australia.
JAAGO Foundation is a movement initiated by a group of young dedicated Bangladeshi volunteers to break the poverty cycle in Bangladesh. They focus mainly on battling illiteracy and malnutrition in children and on rehabilitating them to better living environments and social conditions. They are currently dedicated to conducting activities to provide more long-term and sustainable benefits to children from families who are living below the poverty line.
Important note-physical gifts can only be delivered within Australia, with exceptions of postcards and the volunteer trips