Gandhi Ashram Trust (GAT), Noakhali, Bangladesh
A shelter for Distressed Humanity
Gandhi Ashram Trust (GAT) is a philanthropic development organisation working at Noakhali. It is working since 1946 with Gandhian philosophy of rural development, peace and social harmony. Since inception, GAT is working for the rural poor, especially for women, in the encircled area of the Ashram. It has two prong functions of development and charitable activities. The goal, objectives and activities of GAT are derived from the core value of Gandhian philosophy and guideline. In establishing the Gandhian philosophy, Gandhi Ashram Trust taken the vision as:
"GAT envisages that dignity and well being of all community people (especially poor, marginalized and socially excluded) are ensured and they will take challenges of protecting their rights and entitlements and they will maintain non-violence, peace, tolerance and communal harmony among them".
The mission is awareness and capacity building for community people, elected bodies, civil society, development and cultural activists for protecting Human Rights and improved governance leading to poverty reduction, practice of non-violence, peace and communal harmony.
At present GAT is working for 9 Upazillas (sub-districts) of Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Feni and Comilla District. It is working directly with 1,25,000 poorest families and indirectly 1.2 million families of the area.
The establishment of Gandhi Ashram trust is rooted with the 'Peace Mission' of Mahatma Gandhi immediate after the communal riots in 1946 at Noakhali. Gandhi stayed for about four months in the riot stricken areas. He started moving around the villages and motivated the people of his peaceful co-existence and non-violence philosophy. The day was 29th January 1947 when Gandhiji cam to Jayag and all sphere of life greeted him with whole-hearted support.
At that time, Barrister Hemanta Kumar Ghosh of the village donated all his resources to Mahatma for the development and peace of the area and "Ambika Kaliganga Charitable Trust" was formed. The office of the Gandhi Peace Mission, formerly known as Gandhi Camp, was shifted to the present campus of Jayag. The Gandhi Camp started working for both peace and charitable functions and it continued till partition of India.
After the partition, especially after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, most of the Gandhi followers left Noakhali except a few. The non-secular government of Pakistan come-up with oppression of the Gandhians and majority of them were in Jail for almost the lifetime of Pakistan. The properties of the Trust were forcefully taken away by some land gravers and anti-social elements. The activities of the Trust were not possible.
The team manager of Peace Mission, Mr. Charu Chowdhury was detained in jail for several times and finally for 1963-71. He was released in 1971 after independence of Bangladesh. Charu Chowdhury started re-organising the Ashram in the newly independent Bangladesh and released land and properties from the land gravers. It tooks final shape with the Gazette notification of Bangladesh Government on 2nd October 1975, where "Ambika Kaliganga Charitable Trust" was renamed as "Gandhi Ashram Trust". A committee representating from both Bangladesh and Indian Government was formed to run the activities of the Trust.
GAT Over the Period
In the initial stage, Ambika Kaliganga Charitable Trust thought of charitable functions and started working for the riot victims of Noakhali. The victims were rehabilitated in their society and relief functions were carried out. Besides, motivational works for communal co-existence were taken in the whole area. These functions continued till the separation of India. In the Pakistan period, the Trust could not continue its activities due to the policy of the then Government.
After the Independence of Bangladesh, with the emergence of Gandhi Ashram Trust, there are a shift in the vision and mission of the Trust. Development and extension services for the poor and disadvantaged class were taken into consideration along with charitable functions. Now a days, development of life standard, both in material and eternal, is the main focus of Gandhi Ashram Trust (GAT).
The Programmes of Gandhi Ashram Trust are:
For more information:
Raha Naba Kumar, Director,