What we do
“We believe our success is due to the fact that we work with the people – not for the people. Mati is not only a project but a community.”
MATI’s work focuses especially on women and their children who are experiencing hardship. All of the women live below the poverty level, often even living on significantly less than the 1, 25$ (purchasing power parity!) a day set by the UN. They become MATI Members because they want to actively change their situation for the better, and they often also have a lot of children to take care of.
A lot of ‘our’ women are even more vulnerable because they are widows, divorced, or separated from their husbands in a highly patriarchal society, left without the traditional breadwinner. Besides the financial problems, these women live their lives struggling with social stigma and being marginalized by society. But for us they are more than that – they are essential to our work. Visits and data collection in our projects have shown that about 40% of our members have to live on 25 Taka (0, 25 Euro) per person per day. Even in a country with a weak currency like Bangladesh, the families are struggling to sustain their livelihoods.
One kilogram of the cheapest rice (eaten with every meal) costs 30 Taka, one kilogram of the cheapest seasonal vegetables costs 10 Taka, half a liter milk costs 35 Taka.
Our work focuses on women because in the past it has proven true that the woman generally has the most concerns about the well-being of her family. This means that the woman as a beneficiary equals her whole family as a beneficiary. Women are often the weakest links in society, and the more impoverished they are, the weaker they are. Poor women are always the first to be victims of neglect, violence, hunger, illness, and lack of education. Often they do not know even about their most basic rights and therefore usually suffer from abuse and violence.
To reinforce the woman’s status we make women the core of our organization – through their participation in the MATI women groups. For all of our programs, they are the receiver, which improves their role within the family as well as the community. This does not mean that men cannot participate in our programs, but to become beneficiaries, the women in their families have to negotiate their participation. This indirectly means more equality for the women, because they can influence the decision-making process.
The people‘s underlying problems in our project regions are diverse: Illness because they lack basic hygienic knowledge and have no access to sufficient medical treatment, chronic hunger because they are without land, unemployed, underemployed or underpaid, have limited education opportunities, lack financial means for sustained livelihood and have no savings for crisis or natural disasters. To tackle these problems, MATI has developed and implemented various projects with these women.