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Recovering boyhood: how Rakib went back to school and became an advocate against child marriage

January 1st, 2023

When Rakib was 19, he had just passed his secondary and higher secondary examinations with distinction, and he had been admitted at Dinajpur Government University College. However, he had also fallen in love with a student younger than him, and they got married in secret.

Recovering boyhood: how Rakib went back to school and became an advocate against child marriage

When Rakib’s parents found out, they stopped supporting him and his education. His wife moved in with the family and had to take care of all the household chores, while Rakib started working in rice mongering.

Agriculture is a major activity and occupation in his village, and most people do rice mongering or farming of cattle and poultry. Rakib had to stop going to school and take part in this. With the support of his grandmother, he bought a bicycle, with which he would go to markets and bazaars to buy rice. Then he would resell it in his own village.

Rakib’s wife was soon pregnant. During her pregnancy, Rakib was busy from dawn to dusk buying and selling rice, so he did not have time to take care of her. Unfortunately, no one took her to a doctor when she needed medical attention, and when it came time to give birth, she had to have a C-section in a private clinic. Afterwards, both her and the baby were very prone to illness. 

Fortunately, in July 2021 Rakib was identified by the Nuffic Project staff. Although he was initially reluctant, he did end up receiving training on SRHR, child safeguarding, gender equality, and other topics. After they analyzed his special needs, he was selected as an Early Marriage Spouse in his village.

He was also able to go back to school: with the help of the Coordinator of Pollisree, Rakib visited the college administration. Due to the recent COVID-19 lockdown there was some flexibility: the college told him a delayed admission was possible. Rakib then took the first year’s honors final examination in December 2021, and passed with good marks. This boosted his confidence, thanks to which he agreed to take a number of capacity building training courses, including leadership, negotiations and networking, advocacy and life skills.

He is now an active change maker and was selected as a movement leader in the Pressure Group. In the meantime, his wife was selected as a Married Adolescent to take part in the project, and her father and mother were also included in the In-laws Group. Rakib is now actively campaigning against child marriage in his district, and he is still being regularly trained as a movement leader along with the other Pressure Group members.

Nowadays, Rakib eats breakfast and then goes to buy rice from local bazaars and rural households. He then goes to college, and in the evening, he resells the rice in his town. 

His wife got admitted to the HSC vocational course in the Open University at Dinajpur Campus. Therefore, they have made the joint decision to not have another baby until five years have passed, so that she can also continue her education. 

In addition, Rakib’s wife and daughter can now access medical attention whenever they need it. Rakib helps his wife with some household chores, and he is committed to getting informed consent when his sisters get married in the future.

 “The biggest change in my life is the self confidence that I have gained thanks to the Nuffic project,” Rakib explained. “The awareness skills that I have gained and developed have helped me become who I am today. Now I know that I can do things by myself. I can take care of myself and my family,” he continued.

 “I will continue to be a part of movement leaders among the Pressure Group members. I am firmly committed to preventing early marriage in my area,” he added.

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