Ismot and Her Goat (Bangladesh)

Ismot and Bangladesh Protibhondi Foundation


Mehfuza Islam, a teacher at Bangladesh Protibhondi Foundation, Bangladesh offers the following case study about Ismot. Please share your ideas and responses to her questions at the bottom of the page.


Photo of the village of Kayakhola


Dhamrai is a town about 2 hours from the city of Dhaka in Bangladesh. We are helping establish services for children with visual impairment and additional disabilities in the local school there. When we did the survey of the area around the school, we found Ismot and her family. The village, Kayakhola, where she lives, is not far from the school, but not very well connected.




Photo of Ismot with her goat, teacher, and grandmother outside their house



Ismot is about 13-years-old and has never been to school. She is blind and has an intellectual disability. She is non-verbal, but seems to understand a few simple sentences. She recognizes and loves her grandmother and is a gentle, sweet-natured girl. She is shown here with her grandmother in front of their hut.




Photo of the brick kilns



When she was born and it was apparent that she had a disability, her father abandoned her family. Ismot’s mother moved in with her mother and together they try to make a life for themselves. Ismot’s mother is engaged all day in whatever labour she can find - usually working at the brick kilns nearby. Ismot spends her day in her little hut with her grandmother. She was withdrawn when I met her, not doing much at all through the day. Shown here are the nearby brick kilns where her mother sometimes works.



Photo of Ismot smiling and reaching out to touch goat



It seemed sensible to me to create a learning environment for her at home. I came up with the idea of buying goats for the family. Goats are hardy, easy to care for, quick to reproduce and fetch a good price in the market. We bought the goat and her two kids and brought them to the village a few days ago.

Already, Ismot is attached to them and the immediate effect is seen in her smiling face. She never let me hold her hand or touch her, but now, she accepts all of us, but most of all the goats!



Photo of Ismot and her grandmother feeding the goat

I want her to know that she is the owner of the goats, and that she is responsible for them. I want her to learn to care for the goats by herself. She should learn to feed them at home but also out in the field nearby. 


I think that if she can take the goats to graze, she will learn about the village, about safety, and many things along the way. Others will see her and see that she is able to learn and contribute and it will change the way she is perceived by her family and her village.





Watch this video of Ismot and her grandmother taking the goat to graze.

Mehfuza asks questions below.  Please share your ideas!

I can see already that we have started something good, but have many questions.

Let me start with three:

1. I want to build her independence and learning through this experience - what should my first teaching goals be? Photo of Ismot by field holding the rope with the goat on it.

Suggestion from Leela Agnes (9 Nov. 2011) Holy Cross Service Society, India

List the daily tasks. Club the task with goat rearing activities.(e.g.before touching or coming in contact with goats, brushing and toileting task have to be completed.) Goat will be the motivation factor for your Client to perform the DLS activities. Day events should be systematized and should carried out every day without any changes.


2. Do you have any ideas on how to provide support for the grandmother?

The teacher in the school will visit them regularly, but of course, the daily instruction will come from the grandmother. How do I make sure she is not overwhelmed while at the same time ensuring that Ismot is learning steadily and gaining independence?

Suggestion from Leela Agnes (9 Nov. 2011) Holy Cross Service Society, India

Certain works grandmother have to do. But you can also try to involve neighbours.(For eg-If grandmother have to pluck leaves from tree. She can get help from the neighbour who might also collect leaves for their goats). Like this you can try to pull community members to support your client and this will also reduce burden to grandmother.


3. Where do I draw the line with how much help to give the family?

This is my first visit after they have got the goats - already they are asking me for help - to build a door with a lock for the goat pen, to find good feed when the goats are not out grazing... where do I draw the line? How do I support the family, but help them see their responsibility to the child and to the task?

Suggestion from Leela Agnes (9 Nov. 2011) Holy Cross Service Society, India

When we do placement we tell the family members that we will provide only one time grant to purchase goat. All other recurring expenses should be met by family or by community members. If you do like this then the client and the family members will have ownership and this lead them to take care of the goats. Caution: When you support financially though out your training period you will end up with failure result. Because family members are made to depend on you and when you not there they just don't try to meet the needs that arise.