Emphasising the importance of giving voice to voiceless marginalised people, Lauren Kana Chan, a blogger currently working for the European Commission, has said blogging can be a powerful voice to the people who do not have the voice.
“Blogging allows the opportunity for many more people to give voice to other people. Blogging creates an opportunity to create an emotional side of stories,” she told Dhaka Courier in an interview before wrapping up her three-week visit to Bangladesh.
Lauren who visited several districts and saw EU development projects said she personally thinks it is very important to remind people why and what they are doing.
“Blogging and storytelling is an opportunity to share about individual’s experience and emotion with many other things that might have positive impacts on others.
In the bigger picture, Lauren said, those who are working on development are trying to improve what they are currently doing.
Lauren is one of the four bloggers chosen to travel to different EU-supported projects to share stories about what happened to people or how people got benefited from the projects.
She visited seven districts - Jamalpur, Mymensingh, Cumilla, Khulna, Dhaka, Gazipur and Noakhali during her stay in Bangladesh.
Lauren said as a blogger and writer, having freedom of speech is very important. “But while working on sensitive issues, being mindful of the sensitivity, being respectful to people, you’re sharing your project, and that is incredibly important.”
She said continued security should be there for people who share what they wish to share. “Cautions need to be taken by all parties while sharing sensitive issues like child rights and workers’ rights.”
Responding to a question, Lauren said, “I was surprised with the land rights. In Jamalpur, land right is an issue that’s very present in the entire country. The large population affects many of the areas, including education, sanitation, [and] gender.”
During her short visit, she felt women’s situation in the country is improving and she heard stories about domestic violence, child marriage.
“I’ve also heard how women are looking for works, getting trained and finding opportunities to get independent, especially young girls who have the confidence to become leaders,” Lauren said.
In Noakhali, she visited climate disaster-prone areas where chances are there to face barriers towards getting access to clean water. “There’re small technologies being applied by NGOs to improve the situation.”
Lauren appreciated Bangladeshi food taste saying the food is great but many of her friends and many others are less aware of real Bangladesh.
She mentioned that many do not identify Bangladesh as a tourist destination despite its many beautiful places with natural beauty.
Lauren got a sense on how Bangladesh is struggling with many problems like many other countries in the world.
There are challenges in many areas, including education and gender equality, said the blogger adding, “The world is not free from problems and neither is Bangladesh.”
Describing the beauty of Sreemangal in Sylhet, she said, “Places in Sreemangal are so incredible. The rice fields, the green, the sunset. The perception of Dhaka representing all Bangladesh is not true and there’s a lot more to see in the country.”
Responding to a question, Lauren said the participation of youths in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is extremely important. “Older people need to understand this and give younger opportunities to achieve them.”
She observed that persons with disabilities are neglected all over the world. “In Bangladesh, the situation is improving. They’re being included in formal education system.”
Sharing further about Bangladesh experience, Lauren said, “My impression about Bangladesh has been changed hour by hour being in this country.”
When she first arrived, Lauren had very little information about what the country is like, she says.
She also talked about the challenges the country is facing. “I visited more people, met more project leaders and people in the villages and I learnt about many issues but also I learnt something that was completely surprising which was the kindness of Bangladeshi.”
Lauren said she tried to learn the local language every time she speaks. “I have been very touched by the projects I visited and learning about the different challenges people face and even more inspired by the work that is being done to improve the situation and for a better life.”