Cities are expanding as people are leaving the villages for jobs or a better life. This is also causing villages to disappear very quickly.
Just like all other villages, Zinda, a village in Narayanganj, was also hit by the strong blow of urbanisation.
Situated in Narayanganj, Zinda is in Rupganj Upazila, only 37km away from the capital of Dhaka city.
It was then when five friends came together to do something which turned the village as an exemplary and turned the rural community as an ideal village.
The proposition of the park
The idea of turning the place into an ideal village first hit Tobarok Hossain Kusom, the founder of Zinda Park. His vision was to set up well-established facilities for the villagers.
It is surrounded by three lakes, and it has two more lakes running through the village. And, there are over 20,000 trees of more than 100 different in species.
Kusom then shared the idea with his four school friends – Mohd Nasir Uddin Kazi, Mohd Sahadat Hossain Akand, Mahbubul Alam Kazi, and Mohd Tabarak Hossain Akand. They formed the "Augnibina Students Forum", an association aimed to improve the society. Later, the name was changed to "Orgopathik Palli Samity".
The samity began its journey with a deposit of Tk60 deposit only. Then, with help of the villagers, they build the park slowly over the years.
Over the years, Zinda Park constructed everything that it needed. It has schools, college, a library, a community clinic, mosque, restaurant etc. These facilities are managed and run by the locals. However, they are not funded by the locals but generate their own income and created employment opportunities for villagers.
School, College and Library
First housed in a tin shade structure in 1999, Little Angels' School stands at the end of a huge field. It was completed in 2012. The new structure of the school building is designed by architect Sayedul Hasan Rana.
With a stunning eco-friendly brick façade, every classroom is designed in a manner so that ample amount of air and sunlight exist in all the rooms – perfect ventilation minimising electricity consumption. There are ten classrooms in total, accommodating students from grade I to IX.
The college is still under construction. The park also hosts a library. Students of Zinda Park can access it for free. It is not only a cosy place, but the design is also a treat for the eyes. The total area of the library is around 0.33 acre.
The government has assigned community health workers to provide medical facilities to the villagers through a community clinic.
However, the land and infrastructure of the clinic has been provided by Zinda Park authority. It is a free clinic for all members of the community and general people.
Cottages & Canteen
Zinda Park has cottages which are made of mud and straw. It gives an authentic feel of rural life to the visitors as they can rent it for a whole day. Renting these cottages costs between BDT 3,000 and 5,000 per day.
There is a canteen inside the park for the visitors. From breakfast to dinner, they have all the arrangements. And the food is delicious. This canteen is operated by the villagers. Every evening, members of the committee dine together in the canteen.
Mosque and Graveyard
Located inside the park, designed with rare terracotta collected from different parts of Bangladesh, there is a mosque and an Eidgah. The beautiful architecture of these places are designed by the founder. More than 400 devotees can pray at a time here.
There is a graveyard nearby the mosque. Less privileged people and people who have contributed in building the park along with their family members get the right to be buried in that graveyard.
To honour the freedom fighters of Liberation War of 1971, a memorial beside the mosque has been built.
To celebrate different occasions, Zinda Park has an open space. Every year on Pahela Baishakh, the committee arranges a fair for the villagers. Small business owners of the village set their stalls in the premises.
To make it all just perfect, there is a banyan tree in the premises. Using the sweet setting, the committee arranges a set for Bangla folk songs under the banyan tree.
Amidst the growing concrete jungle, Zinda Park is an ideal place. It is a bridge between the rural and the urban. Moreover, this park can inspire others to replicate the model to create a better living space. To save our environment and to protect its wellbeing, it is high time that we followed Zinda Park's model to build other eco-friendly communities.