Documenting the rural beauty of the Bangladesh border

Documenting the rural beauty of the Bangladesh border

The Travel Diary — Photographer Madison Beach travels to the edges of Bangladesh in an effort to draw attention to the country’s ongoing unemployment crisis.

During the 10-hour van, rickshaw and boat journey to the Indian border an assortment of landscapes rushed passed. My mind raced to the preconceptions I had before I arrived and whether these landscapes matched up, but truth be told I had no idea what to expect when I stepped off the plane in Dhaka.

When I arrived at the village I would be calling home for four months – based 30 minutes away from the Indian border – I felt immediately comfortable after putting up my mosquito net and coming to terms with the squat toilet. I would be living here to volunteer as a community worker, delivering workshops to the local people on health and social issues affecting the rural villages found on the edge of Bangladesh.

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During the workshops, one issue continued to arise with both the youth and community elders: unemployment. Bangladesh has a similar unemployment rate to the UK (4.10 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively) but has almost three times the population. This is becoming an increasingly bigger problem, with the elderly struggling to adapt to new technology and young people graduating with skills not required by the jobs available.

Another issue that became very clear when we were providing written information during our workshops was illiteracy.  With hundreds of people often applying for one job in these rural areas, illiteracy can provide the first hurdle in the application process.

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Despite the challenges, everyone I met was incredibly proud of their country, often referring to it as their “beautiful Bangladesh.” As I looked across at the huge mountains and stunning fields lined with cattle during my weekly rickshaw rides, I realised how deceptive this natural beauty can be. It’s without a doubt the most stunning country I have visited – and yet due to widespread poverty shaped by unemployment, daily life here is often a struggle. I found my eye (and camera) being drawn to the resilient, welcoming people that call Bangladesh home and the landscapes that surround them.

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See more of Madison Beach’s work on her Instagram.

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