(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Samir Uddin – Street hawker, Bangladesh

Samir Uddin, a 50 year-old street hawker in the village of Charpara in Mymensing District can barely make ends meet. Of his US$60 monthly income, $50 goes to food
Mushfique Wadud/IRIN

Samir Uddin, a 50-year-old street hawker, lives with his wife and two children in the village of Charpara in Mymensing District, a rural area 120km north of the capital Dhaka. His children do not go to school.

He describes his financial situation as “very bad” and is particularly worried about the growing number of street hawkers - so much so that he is looking for another job. He says he cannot see things getting better.

Name: Samir Uddin

Age: 50

Location: Charpara village in Mymensing District

Does your spouse/partner live with you? Yes.

What is your primary job? Street hawker.

What is your monthly salary? $60 a month.

What is your household’s total income - including your partner’s salary, and any additional sources? No other income. My partner is a housewife.

How many people are living in your household - what is their relationship to you? Four - wife and two children.

How many are dependent on you/your partner's income - what is their relationship to you? Four.

How much do you spend each month on food? About $50.

What is your main staple - how much does it cost each month? Rice/$12.

How much do you spend on rent? Nothing. I have my own home.

How much on transport? About $5.

How much do you spend on educating your children each month? My children don’t go to school as I can’t afford it.

After you have paid all your bills each month, how much is left? Nothing.

Have you or any member of the household been forced to skip meals or reduce portion sizes in the last three months? Not yet, but we have reduced portion sizes.

Have you been forced to borrow money (or food) in the last three months to cover basic household needs? In August, I borrowed $400.

“Each day when I go to shop for food, at least one item of food has increased in price. It’s been like this in recent years.

“Nowadays, I’m afraid to go shopping.

“Because of financial difficulties, there are more street hawkers than before. As a result, my income has decreased.

“This is the worst time ever. Even if I work hard, I cannot manage my expenses as the price of everything has increased.

“Not only food items. Almost everything has doubled in price over the past five years.

“Things were good for the first two or three years [after being fired from his previous job making bricks], but now it is really difficult to manage a four-member family with the income I earn.

“I am looking for another job again now. Otherwise, I won’t be able to manage three meals for my family.

“Getting a job isn’t easy at the moment when there are so many unemployed people out there. I have been looking for a job for the past 6-7 months but without success.

“If someone in the family gets sick, this is the absolute worst. It means at least $10 in doctors’ bills.

“Every month after paying my bills, I am short of money. I don’t know how I will ever be able to repay this. [a $400-loan he took out a few months ago].

“I don’t see any indication that food prices will decrease. Once the prices go up, they never come down.

“I do not know what I will do if prices keep going this way.”


June 2013 update

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