While many across the country are moved by the generous gesture of Lajina Bewa, 52, from Dhulatoir village, her renouncement of the benefit came as a surprise to a good number of deserving widows who say they are given the runaround by officials who demand bribe in exchange for issuing the allowance card to them.
On June 7, when she returned her widow allowance card to Social Services office in Adamdighi upazila, Lajina said she no longer needed the allowance as her financial situation has improved.
Thanking the government for supporting her since 1998, when she desperately needed a source of income to raise her three young children, Lajina hoped that the fund allocated for her would now be used to support another widow.
“When I got the widow card, I promised to myself that if I became financially stable some day, I would renounce my allowance card so another widow in financial hardship would get the benefit,” Lajina said.
When Lajina’s husband died in 1982, she was only 22 years old. All that left for her was a house on only 10 decimals of land, but no source of income to support the family.
After years of struggle to raise the children — two daughters and a son — with different odd jobs, she found a silver lining in her darkest days in 1998, when she finally started receiving the monthly government allowance for widows.
Even though it was only Tk 100 at that time, the amount was quite helpful for her in those days, she said.
Eventually, she married off the daughters and her son, Mamunur Rashid, completed his master’s degree.
In 2014, Mamunur managed a job in Malaysia under G2G (government to government) programme between the two countries. Before leaving for Malaysia, he appeared for government teacher selection tests. He returned home a couple of years later when he was selected for an assistant teacher position at a government primary school.
Mamunur gradually pulled the family together. He now owns 100 decimals of croplands.
Mamunur said assured by his stable income from the government job and other properties, his mother felt that it was time for her to allow other less fortunate widows receive government allowances.
Sharif Uddin, Social Services officer in Adamdighi upazila, said a total of 2,862 women receive the widow allowance in the upazila, but Lajina Bewa is the only person, not only in the upazila but also in the country, who relinquished such benefits.
Source: The Daily Star
Date: 30 June 2021