The man who speaks with his heart

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Parindey: Nazar Bandhu

Alivelihood: Social Work

Region: Chakla, Parganas District, West Bengal

“My main objective is not community development; that is my happiness. Social work is its by-product.” – Nazar Bandhu

Different people find their happiness in life in different ways. Abdul Nazar, a young man from Muvattupuzha, finds his happiness in living as the Bandhu of Chakla, a small village in West Bengal. In Bengali, 'Bandhu' means a friend.

Nazar resides near the Loknath Baba Temple, which is considered as the heart of Chakla. Whoever goes to Chakla and asks, will be shown the way to Bandhu's house with a smile on their face and even more joy. Everyone in the village, regardless of their age, calls him “Bandhu”.

Nazar hails from Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district of Kerala. He spent his school life at different places in Ernakulam. He then graduated with a degree in Sociology from Islamia College, Thalikulam. He later pursued his postgraduate studies in Social Work from Sri Sankaracharya University.

The beginning of a revolution at Chakla was marked when the metamorphosis of Abdul Nazar to Nazar Bandhu took place. We could even classify the Chakla as before and after Bandhu. Nazar first came to Chakla in 2011 as a project coordinator for the Human Care Foundation. He later remained there as part of the work for five long years. It was during this period that Nazar began to learn more about the village. Chakla is a village located in North-24 Parganas, the most populous district in India. The nearest government hospital is 18 kms from the village. There are eight doctor's clinics in Chakla. Most of them are doctors with educational qualifications below SSLC. Government schools that run for just the namesake of it, students dropping out halfway through their studies, financial exploitation by landlords against farmers; these are a few of many problems that are being faced by the villagers of Chakla. Despite the closure of his project, Nazar decided not to leave Chakla as he witnessed and endured all these problems for those five years.

Bandhu Tea Shop (a file image)

In 2016, Nazar founded his own venture, the Zero Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization in Chakla. In the beginning, he faced many crises like financial hardship. He would carry out the organization’s activities by borrowing money on interest, with the help of friends, and spending his own life's savings. Most of the villagers made their living by farming and Nazar chose the same path. Chakla's landscape is rich with jute, mustard fields and paddy cultivation. In addition to these, nurseries are another form of farming in which people are engaged. Nazar started a nursery on a leased plot of land and also provided employment to a few farmers. Although he was relieved of his financial difficulties, he found it very difficult to go down at a deeper level to understand the problems they were facing. In order to overcome that, Nazar settled in Chakla. To learn more about the villagers, he first started a tea shop there. The perception of tea shops as a place where people talk about the village and the local issues gave rise to this idea. He named his tea shop “Bandhu‟. The tea shop later played a significant role in making him a Bandhu of the entire people of that village.