The 'YouTube Village': How a cooking channel transformed a village
YouTube has been one of the most popular sources of information for over a decade. What if it's used to promote a remote Bangladeshi village, alleviate the hunger of the poor village people, and develop the village as a whole?
This happened in Shimulia village in Khoksa Upazila, Kushtia, called 'YouTube Village,' where hundreds of its inhabitants are provided free food three days a week by promoting Bengali cuisine and culture on YouTube.
It all started back in September 2016, when a team of 25–30 people led by local school teacher Md. Delowar Hossain started a YouTube channel named 'AroundMeBD' (link: https://youtube.com/@AroundMeBD) with the help of his nephew Liton Ali Khan, an owner of a software firm in Dhaka. The channel started by posting videos of fishing in rural ponds.
After a while, Liton and Delowar planned to make videos promoting rural Bengali food culture by feeding some poor villagers. They hired veteran cooks of the village to cook various local dishes, from basic eggplant curry to massive cauldrons of delicious biryani.
Even though the AroundmeBD team planned to cook for 20–30 people, the numbers grew. Soon, hundreds of villagers came to eat in their program for three days a week.
On the other hand, the views and subscriptions to the channel grew at an exponential rate. People from Bangladesh and the rest of the world enjoyed the rural culinary culture, and well-wishes poured in.
By 2022, 4.43 million people subscribed to AroundmeBD, and the channel amassed 1.4 billion views. All of the revenue from YouTube is used to pay the channel crew and cooks and finance the whole mass feeding program.
AroundmeBD team's work doesn't stop here; their philanthropic works are more applaudable. The team sends food to every sickly and disabled person's home in Shimulia.
The team also built a theme park named 'YouTube Village Park', which is built only with materials from their village. The theme park has quickly become a tourist attraction and a big promotion for the village, as hundreds of visitors from across the country come here.
Shimulia village and the AroundmeBD channel came to the limelight recently when popular global food vlogger Sonny from 'Best Ever Food Review' channel came to feature them, accompanied by two other popular Bangladeshi food vloggers, Rafsan the Chotobhai and Adnan Faruk.
This is the age of globalisation. Any remote population can seek growth through the power of the internet. The idea that people from a distant village in Bangladesh can achieve fame, employment, and development in their village through the internet would have seemed impossible even a decade ago.
But the unfailing support of people across the globe and the success of a YouTube channel proved that the impossible can always be achieved.