Shahana Begum lost her national identity (NID) card when she went to vote during the national election of 2014. She didn’t have any photocopy of the card and faced numerous problems due to not having her NID. It barred her from accessing services from many formal institutions. Shahana and her husband Mohammad Karim live in Geneva Camp in Mohammadpur, Dhaka with their four children. The family earned a meagre income with which it was difficult to get by every day. One of her sons then decided to start a business but he did not have the capital required for it. Unable to arrange the money from any other sources Shahana tried to get a loan from a cooperative. However, getting loan from the cooperative required submission of a photocopy of NID with the loan application. Hence, she could not even get a loan from the cooperative due to not having her NID.

One day a paralegal from the Council of Minorities (COM) went to her house as part of household visit activities of the organization. Shahana informed the paralegal about her situation and told her how she was facing many problems due to not having an NID. The paralegal advised Shahana to go to the Paralegal Centre to get assistance. Without any delay Shahana went to the Paralegal Centre the very next day. A COM paralegal then took her to Mohammapur office of the National Election Commission (NEC) – the issuing authority of NID cards. After searching through hundreds of records the NEC officials were able to identify her NID card number. But getting a duplicate card issued required completion of many other formalities. The first requirement was filing a general diary at the local police station informing them about the missing NID. The COM paralegal assisted Shahana to file the general diary at the police station. The paralegal then helped Shahana to fill in an application for a duplicate NID card and submit it at the NEC with a photocopy of the general diary.

Approximately one month after submitting her application Shahana received a duplicate NID from the NEC office. She then used a photocopy of her new NID to successfully obtain a loan from the cooperative. Her son invested the money to start his business and is now earning a decent income to support the family. Thanks to the support from a COM paralegal, the financial condition of Shahana’s family has improved and she is now looking forward to a better future.