Kawsar Ul Hoq
I am a master’s student of Social Protection System at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences in Bonn, Germany. I am obliged to complete an internship at an organization that works in the relevant field as a part of my degree completion. While searching for an internship, I, fortunately, found BASUG Diaspora and Development, a non-profit development organization, through a reference of a well-wisher. It is an active diaspora organization in the Netherlands working together with different stakeholders such as the Dutch government, UNDP, Oxfam, Novib, ICCO, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) in Germany and other mainstream development organizations. Its mission is the socio-economic emancipation of the marginal poor – mainly the women and the children, and strengthening the diaspora advocacy movement to bring forward the migrant agenda both nationally and globally. Moreover, BASUG works on environmental issues aiming to raise awareness about climate change and global warming. Although BASUG’s headquarter is in the Netherlands, it also works in Germany, UK, Italy, Belgium, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. I have been appointed as an intern at BASUG’s Bonn office under the supervision of the organization’s Project Director AHM Abdul Hai.
My commencement at BASUG started by joining an online ‘Views-Exchange Meeting’ on 4th July 2021. The purpose of this online meeting was to devise ideas and to formulate agenda for promoting and expanding community works in cooperation with Seraji Foundation, a social welfare organization based in Bonn. Through this meeting I have been introduced to Bikash Chowdhury Barua, Chairman of BASUG, Riazul Islam, Chief Editor of ‘Die Grenze’ a bilingual magazine and several other prominent individuals, who are from different academic backgrounds, yet, working for one specific goal; social wellbeing. I also have come to know about several social welfare organizations that have been working in Bonn and NRW region such as the ‘Haus der Integration’, a Bangladeshi mosque and social organization. The outcomes of the meeting were planning of a monthly community cleaning event in Bonn and neighboring areas and organizing online training courses on project management, team work, quality assurance and finance management.
The online training on project management was held on 10 July 2021 and was conducted by Selly Wane, the Managing Director of Kookaburra non-profit enterprise in Wuppertal. The trainer discussed the processes of writing a project proposal to donor organizations and things to be considered before submitting a proposal. Instead of discussing the stereotypes of writing a project proposal, Wane described it in a logical, constructive and pragmatic way. At first, the trainer clarified how the donor organizations scrutinize a project proposal and what they look for in a proposal. She unveiled several solutions to reduce the chances of rejection. She advised keeping the organization’s website and social media profile always updated together with many tips and tricks. This training program had answered many of my questions on project management. However, I could not learn the whole process of developing a project proposal, implementation, and evaluation processes of a project. I hope to learn these by participating in BASUG’s ongoing projects.
To experience more about project management, my supervisor invited me to a workshop titled ‘Sustainable Consumption and Life’. This workshop was held on 31 July 2021 at Bonn and it was organized by ASG-Germany. The main theme of the workshop was how deeply our life is engrossed by plastic use and whether there is any way out. It showed that we are using plastic in many forms such as water bottles, coffee cups, spoons, bags, etc., and how these plastic products are affecting our physical and mental health. A few examples were presented of how we could reduce the use of plastic products by just being conscious and changing our habits. It also demonstrated how drastically we are using natural resources to produce artificial products and the way nature is taking revenge on us. The last segment of the workshop was sorting waste products in categories that are already in use in Germany, such as paper, plastic, organic, and others by the active participation of the audiences. I have also participated in the waste sorting segment and realized I had not sorted wastes correctly in many instances before. In my opinion, the workshop was successful in rendering the main message to the audience, content development, data and visual presentation, and engaging audiences in activities. I believe, the most important thing about a project is the theme of the project; the message we want to disseminate to people, and its relevance to their lives.
In the meanwhile, I was working on BASUG’s ongoing project ‘Jute instead of Plastic 2.0’. It had researched the same topic to present the findings in the project seminar. The data were collected from different stakeholders such as academics, climate and development activists, policymakers, entrepreneurs, consumers, social workers, and jute importers through a questionnaire using email, social media, and personal interviews. I input the responses on google forms and analyzed the findings. I was surprised to know from the findings that some of the respondents do not know much about jute and jute products. Although jute and jute products are more prevalent in Bangladesh, jute products are hardly found in the European market. The purpose of this project was to inform people about jute products as an eco-friendly replacement for malignant plastic products. The project was supported by Engagement Global through the funds of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project constituted of three symposiums in three different cities of Germany, Mönchengladbach, Koblenz and Mainz. The first symposium was organized in Mönchengladbach on Saturday the 11th of September 2021. The second one was held on 9 October in Koblenz and the last one was held on 6 November in Mainz.
Mönchengladbach’s symposium is the first BASUG program, in which I participated in person. It was an exciting day for me since I had got the opportunity to meet a lot of new people. I have reached the venue around 10:00 am. I arranged the exhibition with the pamphlets, leaflets, magazines, and jute products at the exhibition area. I greeted the guests and recorded their presence at the program. The seminar was inaugurated by His Excellency Md. Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, NDC, Ambassador of Bangladesh in Germany as the chief guest. AHM Abdul Hai, Project Director, BASUG conducted the program. Bikash Chowdhury Barua, Chairman, BASUG, Dr. Mona Pursey, Regional Facilitator, Eine Welt Forum Aachen e.V., Hasnat Mia, Honorary Consul General of Bangladesh in NRW, Germany were also present there. The honorable guests have presented their appraisal on the prospects of jute as an alternative to plastic. I served snacks and drinks to the guests and was attentive to the speakers during the session. The speakers reiterated the lethal effects of plastic use for the human race, animals and the environment as well. They presented jute products as the best alternative to plastic products because of their biodegradability. Although they have expressed their concern about the price, quality, and availability of jute products in the European market, they hope jute has better prospects since more people are being educated about the hazardous effects of plastic and how we could save the environment.
As an intern, I have learnt step by step from BASUG, especially from my supervisor. The learning process has become much smoother since we both have the same mother tongue. Hai encourages me to focus more on my studies. He inspires me to learn the German language as quickly as possible. However, I could not learn much about its administrative procedures and protocols, as it was not possible to visit and work in BASUG office in the Hague because of time and costs. However, to remedy this Hai invited me to many seminars and workshops held in Germany. He taught me how to write official emails and what to consider while replying to emails, how to prepare documents, how to construct arguments etc. I learned protocol writing, and official documentation processes from him. Whenever I do not understand anything, he takes time and explains that elaborately at right time. He has never put much pressure on me. Time to time he has given me a few tasks and I had flexibility in completing those. My internship has still a few months left and I have so many things to learn from BASUG and execute them properly. May Allah help me to complete my internship successfully.