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Mostafa's story


Mostafa © Ana Norman Bermudez

Ana Norman Bermudez

Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, is home to 7 million people. With a daily traffic of 400,000 rickshaws, Dhaka is nicknamed the Rickshaw Capital of the World.

Ana Norman Bermudez

One of these rickshaw riders is 60-year-old Mostafa Mohammed. Five years ago, when Mostafa was still living in his home village, he lost his left foot due to an infection. Mostafa and his wife moved to Dhaka, where they thought she could work as a maid and he could learn to ride a rickshaw.

Ana Norman Bermudez

After many rejections, Mostafa found a patron who would rent out a rickshaw to him. The rickshaw is faulty and the bolts need to be tightened daily. This makes it even more difficult to control. He pays 120 taka ($1.50) per day for the rickshaw and earns around 400 taka ($5.00) from customers.

Ana Norman Bermudez

As he rides through the streets of Dhaka, other rickshaw drivers stare with curiosity - 'How does he do it?', they wonder. To which he replies, 'with determination'.

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Ana Norman Bermudez

Every morning Mostafa drops his wife off at Banani graveyard, where she has also found work. Together they earn enough to support their children. 'School is expensive, but I have made sure that all my children finish school. I have also arranged marriages for the three of them,' says Mostafa.

Ana Norman Bermudez

He admits to getting tired often, but there is no easy alternative. He has no access to pension schemes or welfare subsidies from the government.

Ana Norman Bermudez

'I would like to buy an auto rickshaw and go back to the village; life is much nicer over there. But it would cost me almost a year's entire earnings,' he explains.

Mostafa’s journey echoes the journey of many rickshaw drivers who flee the village to find work in Dhaka. Despite their contribution to the Bangladeshi urban economy and cultural identity, they are often neglected and exploited. Their status reveals the deep inequality that permeates Bangladeshi society.


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