“I don’t like to work but I love to study.”
The recent experiences of 14-year-old Sabina show what a fragile existence many Bangladeshi children endure. She was born and spent the first decade of her life in a village called Bhola. Her father was a successful farmer with his own land. She and her sister were enjoying school. But like many farmers who are experiencing the impact of climate change, one bad season meant Sabina’s father lost his crop and income for the entire year. With no financial safety net, soon he was relying on moneylenders but in time he lost his land to them.
The family left the village for Dhaka, following in the footsteps of many families before them. Sabina and her sister were enrolled in a government school and her father started working as a rickshaw puller. He was not able to cope with the stress and suffered a severe heart attack, making him weak and unable to work. Their mother became a domestic worker but could only earn a small amount so Sabina and her sister had to drop out of school and find work in the garment factories.
Sabina learned about Nagorik Uddyog’s drop-in centres from a colleague who was already registered. Because the centres work around the shift times of the garment workers, Sabina is able to attend the centre before her shifts start in the afternoon. She still needs to work but is hoping that one more year of factory work will mean she can save the money her father needs to open a small grocery shop. Her dream is to once again get enrolled in school after her father starts earning. Until then the centre means she is keeping up her basic skills, practising her English and learning computer skills.
Sabina’s confidence and sense of humour have returned. “I don’t like to work but I love to study.” The drop-in centre means that when the time is right for her to return to school, she will have the skills and confidence she needs.
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