Caregivers they are called. Although unfamiliar to most people, the very term by itself conveys the compelling sense of the service. In many countries of the Western world, though, the service has picked up quite nicely. It has just been introduced on a limited scale here in this country. It has, reportedly, its successful introduction and hence is likely to inspire many people to take heart from the experience.
What kind of service do caregivers render then? It is a service for those who need to be looked after when members of their families are busy otherwise. No, this is not about old homes or day care centres where vulnerable people and children are taken care of. Here the caregiver arrives at the resident of the needy to look after the person or child for payment. Usually the payment depends on the basis of service hours.
Not everyone can become a caregiver because it may prove to be boring and uninspiring if ingrained in someone is not the mentality of humanitarian service. For some financial compulsion may prove overriding but unless the right mentality is present, there is little chance one can be fit enough to do the service. If pecuniary reasons are there and one is favourably indisposed towards the service, there is every possibility clicking things.
Still such a profession cannot develop on its own. If the demand is there, the supply has also to be systematic, authentic and disciplined. In a country where mistrust marks most of the social dealings, here the very nature of service has the potential for breach of contracts. Those left under care may have little control over the caregiver. Chances of taking advantage of the helplessness of the charge cannot be ruled out.
This is the temptation that has to be won over. But how? Here exactly, comes the role of organisation of the service by a responsible agency. In Bangladesh, the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) has undertaken the responsibility of organising the service of such caregivers. But the PKSF has no expertise in training up such manpower. So, it has signed an agreement with the UK-based Sir William Beveridge Foundation (SWBF) for the purpose. The SWBF will provide training for interested people preferably young people selected by the PKSF.
Training is not all. Sure enough motivation matters here a lot. It is a profession that warrants devotion and a heightened sense of duty. Treating the ward or charge with care may be possible if they love the job or they even become fully aware of their responsibilities. Either way, they have an opportunity of earning an amount they would not have otherwise. That is the line of thinking but people forget such basic principles when they are not easily satisfied.
In Western rich countries, the demand for caregivers is very high and the job is highly paying too. In this country, income from care giving is not likely to be equally handsome but still for those employed in the job may earn in the range of Tk 20,000-30,000 a month. For unemployed youths with secondary or higher secondary education this amount is not negligible. However, if they are employed with superrich families in the country, caregivers stand the chance of earning even more.
Now that the PKSF and the SWBF have joined hands to develop a profession with a difference, they may as well explore employment opportunities abroad for the trained youths. Hopefully, the best crop of caregivers produced here will be able to compare favourably with the very best in the world. At the same time their demand and compensation package too are likely to grow with Bangladesh graduating into a middle-income country. Already a class of rich people are there who will feel enormously encouraged by the prospect of hiring such caregivers for taking care of their near and dear ones at home. Social mores will have changed by this profession if it is used discreetly.