Turning the spotlight to our work centres in Bangladesh: the beating heart of dignify. Read Forida*'s story below:
My name is Forida. My parents got divorced when I was three to four years old. I also have an older sister. Our stepmother was very cruel to us — not giving us food and not treating us well. We could not bear her torture anymore. My elder sister went to Dhaka to work at a garments factory and my father sent me to my grandmother’s house. My grandfather had died a long time ago and my grandmother had no means to feed us. She asked food from other people. We never had enough food. I was so hungry!
Many times I ran away from my grandmother’s house because as a little child, I could not starve. But my grandmother brought me back. A woman helped me run away and she found a house for me to work in as a house helper. I was only six or seven years old, but I was forced to do all the household chores. Again I ran away.
Luck was not on my side. Wherever I went, I received mistreatment. I found another house but they were also same. I had to run away again. From that time I have spent my life in different centres for children. We spent our days selling candy in buses and on the streets. At meal time I bought food from the centre. The food we ate was not good and I was still hungry. Many times I asked God why He created me when I did not have enough food to eat.
Life in the street was not safe. One time a lady tried to sell me. People’s bad eyes were always there. I met my husband in the street. He is a disabled man. He cannot walk. He was a street beggar. I have no guardian. I married a disabled man because I know he won’t leave me. My husband did not earn enough to run the family. My starvation did not go away.
I joined Basha’s partner, Children’s Uplift Program. At first I thought I will learn tailoring and do work at home. So I joined CUP’s training program for tailoring training. But I could not leave them because of the love and care I received from them. When I graduated, I joined Basha Enterprise because of their working environment. My child is safe at day care center and I can work. Now I do not go hungry any more. When I sold things on the streets, I earned more money but there was no honor. I could not tell anyone about my work. Now I can invite my relatives to visit my office. They are very happy to see my work place. I can share my struggles and pain.
My life has been changed through this work. I am looking for a bright future. I will open a bank account and save money. Eventually I want to return to my village and start my own tailoring shop.