Do traveled to Bangladesh with Cordaid: ‘Impressed by the people’s optimism and perseverance’

A third of all people worldwide have too little food. Cordaid and RTL Boulevard are teaming up this week to change that. Singer and Cordaid ambassador Do van Hulst (41) visited Bangladesh especially for this campaign, a country increasingly affected by floods as a result of climate change. As a result, the harvest fails and a large part of the population has too little food. In conversation with RTL Boulevard, Do looks back on the impressive experience.

“I saw how some people had created a vegetable garden in no time to feed their families”

Do has just returned home from the Asian country for a few days, she says. “We had to travel a long way to reach the remote area. We even covered the last part by boat.” A large part of the country consists of water. “Bangladesh lies at the mouth of two great rivers, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra,” explains Do. “There have always been a lot of floods, but climate change is causing more meltwater to come down from the Himalayas – which is in the north of the country. People are overwhelmed by it.”

In rural Bangladesh, many residents depend on their own harvests for food and income. But crops are regularly washed away by the increasingly severe floods. Surely when this happens again and again the consequences are catastrophic: because no harvest means: no food and no income. That’s why Cordaid and RTL Boulevard join forces to help families so they can harvest again. Not only in Bangladesh, but also in other countries with poor food security.

The pictures of Do’s trip to Bangladesh – where she visits (agricultural) families who can provide enough food or income with the help of Cordaid – can be seen below.

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On his journey, Do met a young woman, Kolpona, who was awakened in the middle of the night by water literally up to her lips. “Kolpona had to get herself and her seven-year-old daughter to safety by climbing onto the roof. Meanwhile, not only were the contents of her house washed away, but her crops were also destroyed. The current is huge. You can hardly wade through that water without And then you still have insurance in the Netherlands that covers part of the damage, but that is not the case for the affected people in Bangladesh.’

When the water recedes, the inhabitants have to start growing their crops from scratch in order to have enough food for the family. “But then you have to have the means to buy seeds or fruit trees, for example. And what if you don’t have that? Then there is too little food. People often see no other way out than to go to the city for work. The reality shows. yet more miserable there and they end up in slums. Children are also sometimes forced to drop out of school and start working way too early to help their parents still be able to buy some food.”

Cordaid wants to prevent such scenarios. That is why Cordaid helps vulnerable families who are affected by climate change and therefore have too little food. “For example, by training them to teach them how to propagate crops. In the Netherlands it is done in seed trays, but they are not available there – and even if they were already there, local don’t go to the store to buy one,” says Do. “That’s why they use containers, old PET bottles, buckets or bags that usually hold rice. A kind of breeding tank is made of it. When the rainy season comes, it is temporarily placed on the roof of their home. It is quite a job, because the clay soil is quite heavy. But then at least the crops don’t wash away. After the monsoon, the young plants can really go into the ground. There they are strong enough to take root, and they grow even faster so that they no longer float away at the next high tide.”

“Cordaid also provides families with vegetable seeds and fruit trees, and they are trained to respond better to the changing weather conditions,” continues Do. “In the south of Bangladesh, for example, due to the increasing number of cyclones, they are facing salinization of the soil. As a result, some crops can no longer grow there. In the Netherlands, we also have the problem of salinity. Here we discovered that some varieties of carrots, potatoes and cabbage thrive in the salty soil. Cordaid transfers that knowledge and provides people with seeds from these salt-tolerant crops. This way, they can still grow food on their fallow land, so families have food and income again.”

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Do knows what she’s talking about, because she has green fingers herself. “Four years ago I moved from the heart of Amsterdam to the country. There we have a gigantic garden with fruit trees, a kitchen garden and a greenhouse. Of course, it’s a completely different story for us: we don’t depend on what we grow there. But because I know how difficult it is to grow your own produce, I understand how vulnerable it is when you are completely dependent on it.” She remains silent for a moment. “And you know, I randomly buy four books here on maintaining your vegetable garden. People there don’t have that luxury.”

Her trip to Bangladesh made a big impression on Do. “Emotions competed for priority when I was there. Of course you come across a lot of upsetting situations. I have two small children myself. As a mother, it affects me terribly if you can’t give them enough to eat.”

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At the same time, Do is very impressed by the residents’ optimism and perseverance. “They are so enthusiastic. It’s amazing how time and again they put their shoulders to the wheel and start over. Also, I saw how some people had planted a vegetable garden in no time to feed their families. It’s very clever , and it shows that with the right resources and knowledge, mountains really can be moved.”

You can see more about the Cordaid campaign and Do’s journey tonight in RTL Boulevard, at 18.35 on RTL 4. Want to contribute yourself? With 20 euros you already help one family with seeds and training. This allows them to provide enough food for their family again. Text ‘BOARD’ to 7171 and automatically receive a link to a one-time donation or donate directly via Cordaid.nl.

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