We recently set up a new centre at Himsori, Sukna Sora in Cox’s Bazar. Whilst Cox’s Bazar is a tourist area, it is also a very poor area. Naturally many people try to eek out a living from the forests in the area by chopping down the trees and selling the wood. Some men work as day labourers, although this work is often not constant and they can go many days at a time without work. Others are farmers and a few have some of their own land. But all in all its a very deprived part of the country.
I wanted to share with you some of the stories from women in the Himsori centre.
Image: Sahara Khatun in yellow in the middle
Sahara Khatun is 19 years old and is not yet married. She lives with her family of seven members where her father is a farmer. Her father wants her to get married but Sahara doesn’t feel ready yet. Sahara has started to learn to crochet at the Himsori centre so that she can contribute to her family expenses. She knows that if she is able to earn money then the pressure on her to marry will reduce.
Image: Ruma Akter in the black scarf in the centre
Ruma Akter is also 19 years old. Ruma wants to study rather than get married but again there is pressure on her to marry because she is a financial burden to the family. Ruma knows that if she is able to earn money and contribute to her family and earn enough money for her education expenses then she will have some choice about delaying her marriage. She knows that if she can get more education then once she is ready to get married she will have a better income and be better able to support a family of her own.
Image: Jorna Tara in red in the centre
Jorna Tara is married and has three children. She is 25 years old. Her husband is a day labourer. This basically means that every day he goes to a place where he knows some people in construction will look for workers and waits to see if his labour is needed that day. Some days he gets work and some days he doesn’t. The worst part is that he doesn’t know if he will get work or not and so their family income is inconsistent and it is difficult for them to plan. Jorna Tara started to learn crochet in the Himsori centre so that she can contribute to her family and have enough money to send her young children to school.
The stories from the women in these centres follow a similar path. The women want the opportunity to work and earn money in a dignified way so that they can provide for their families, send their children to school, or educate themselves. All over Bangladesh we find that the women are very smart. They know what they need. They need a regular income from dignified employment so that they can contribute to their families and save and plan for the future.
Isn’t that what we all want?