On Thursday November 7th, the SIDAF group was honoured to meet Dr. Tanyss Munro of the Amarok Society, and to hear her truly inspiring presentation on the work she and her family have done, and continue to do, in the slums of Bangladesh.
The Amarok Society is a registered Canadian charity that “teaches very poor mothers to be neighbourhood teachers”. As it’s website states, “Teach a Mother, Change the World”. Amarok’s approach to education is based on a simple but effective principle – if you educate mothers, and ask each of them to educate 5 other mothers and children, learning spreads and brings with it social change. As Dr. Munro says, Bangladesh is at the top or bottom of all the lists countries don’t want to be on, for example the most crowded, the poorest, the most corrupt etc. It is a country where women and girls are tightly controlled and isolated by a male-dominated society, an Islamic country where girls are bound in marriage at very young ages, e.g. 11 or 12, because of the social conventions of a society that demands a higher marriage dowry to be paid the older the girl is. These young brides are then isolated within their husbands’ families, are treated like slaves, and begin to have children when they are still children themselves.
Dr. Munro shared with us stories of creativity and courage, of women who suffered physical and emotional abuse to do what they believed to be right – to educate girls and women, and by doing so, to improve the lot of entire families and villages. Her story is ultimately one of hope and celebration, of mothers struggling to provide a better future for their children, of husbands and fathers learning the value of happy and educated wives and children, of the possibility of cultural change.
Learn more about this wonderful organization by visiting their website at www.amaroksociety.org, and support them by purchasing Tanyss’ husband G.E.M. Munro’s book, South Asian Adventures with the Active Poor.