We are amazed at the report of “NGO officials” at a remote village in Sadurapul upazila in Kishoreganj embezzling about Tk 37 lakh from poor rural women in the name of capacity-building and income-generation. The officials, who disappeared overnight with the money, were from a fake NGO called 'Hosto Shilpa Private Ltd' set up six months ago. Reportedly, the NGO employed women from the area as field officers to recruit rural women as members for training on sewing and arts and crafts. From these members, the NGO charged admission fee, training fee and security money for electricity-run sewing machines. But on Tuesday, the five officials entrusted with the money fled the village with the women's meagre savings, and their dreams of a better life.
It is deplorable that unscrupulous people would prey on poor women in the villages. That they should do this in the name of training and empowering these women, by exploiting people's faith in NGOs, is even more disgraceful. The Kishoreganj UNO informed the victims that the NGO did not have any registration with the social welfare department and that there was no record of it at his office. The question is why has this fact come to light now and not before?
This highlights the importance of monitoring NGOs and of ensuring that they do not carry out dishonest activities victimising unsuspecting people. With NGOs working all over the country, particularly in remote villages, the social welfare department and local government must remain alert to the possibility of dishonest persons setting up fake NGOs, exploiting people's confidence in non-government development activities. The perpetrators of this crime must be brought to book without delay.