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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A (S)HERO: Through ‘Her’ Eyes

Over the world, a girl child encounters different types of challenges which hinder her growth, social interaction, academic development, and professional life as a whole. Across the world, around 78% of girls do not have access to proper education, and in Bangladesh, despite having a population of approximately 160 million, 1.5 million Bangladeshi girl children are not enrolled in a primary school. The setback in education and proper training is making it difficult for women across the nation to bridge the gender gap in employment, giving rise to higher risk of exploitation, workplace harassment and bullying and unfair wages for women. In light of United Nation’s International Day of the Girl Child (11 October), JAAGO Foundation is sharing a compelling tête-à-tête with a striver, who is resolute to change her future and her family’s by pursuing a life of literacy.

13 year-old Shumi is just as spirited as she is ambitious, and never allows the smile on her face to be wiped away, despite her many adversaries. Having been studying in JAAGO’s Rayer Bazar School for the past nine years, Shumi has always been eager to try out new things and lend a hand to her classmates whenever they seek her help.

Upon asking her about her family, Shumi beamed and shared, “I live with my parents and my siblings. My father is a rickshaw-puller and works day and night to support our family. It gets difficult sometimes as my mother works at home and my brothers are too young to help with the income. My brothers, Rafiq and Saidur, are both studying in JAAGO with me, but my Baba says I make him the proudest since I have been the best in my class.”

When asked how her family perceived her education, Shumi professed in depth how her mother and grandmother were never given the option or the opportunity to let education govern their lives. They were never allowed to break the shackles of society and were always overruled by it. Shumi, on the other hand, wanted to break free and allow education to determine her future. She wanted to experience a life which exposes her to the world and its infinite knowledge, and make a better use of it.

She revealed how the struggles her mother faced as a young girl began to be a part of her reality recently, “One day I came home from school to find my Baba laying on the bed. He never returns so early, so when I nervously questioned his early arrival, Baba playfully replied that he was becoming an old man and his body was giving up on him. If seeing him suffering wasn’t difficult enough, within the span of the next few days, my uncle came up to me and informed that I had to get married before something fatal happened to my father.”

Shumi bit down on her lips as great sadness set over her eyes, “Baba was too weak to protest like he usually did. I could tell they were hiding it from him. As for Ma…. Well, she was easily manipulated into thinking that everyone had their best interests for me. I still remember rushing to Sharmin Miss, our Big Teacher, and pouring my heart out to her. She sent our school counselor, Lamia Miss, to my house so that she could explain to my family about child marriage and how it would damage my future.”

Shumi’s smile returned as she recalled the days after, when her mother stood up for Shumi for the first time against her relatives and neighbors. “Ma told them that I would be like my idol, Indra Nooyi, the head of PepsiCo. I aspire to become a businesswoman like her when I grow up. I often wonder how powerful and courageous she must be in order to handle such a big firm.”

As the female members of Shumi’s family has not known a world beyond that constructed by a society where women are not given the same opportunities as a man, Shumi is determined to break even. Lack of education for girls is a common situation amongst underprivileged households in Bangladesh. Shumi always wanted her mother to support her aspirations, as her mother was oblivion to the importance of education because of her lack of exposure to an academic life.

JAAGO Foundation gives girls an opportunity towards quality education. We urge you to join us in our fight to secure the future of girls throughout the country and help us give them the basic fundamental right in education. This opportunity will help them grow and explore their capabilities. Change the lives of young girls. Help Sponsor their Education!

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