In the outskirts of Dhaka, opportunities for employment are lacking for many parents and youths. For large families, children would need to support their parents financially by working. In many communities outside the biggest city in Bangladesh, people look for many ways to earn a living such as opening a small business or serve as daily wage labourers, work in masonry, or in transportation.
For 23-year-old Shomi, this was her reality. Her father had to work as a daily wage labourer, while her mother was a housewife - taking care of their large family of seven. Shomi particularly had more challenges growing up, compared to her neighbours as she had a speech disorder. For this reason she was bullied and neglected by her classmates.
Shomi said, “My teacher even suggested to my father that I should work rather than be in school. At one point, my father argued with my mother, which led to me becoming a maid to earn a living for us”. At only 12-years-old, Shomi stopped going to school to cook and clean other houses. As a payment, she only received food and clothes. Many years have passed, Shomi had to work from dawn to dusk, till late at night at her master’s house. Her journey as a child was full of deception, exploitation, and negligence. Shomi always wished to learn the skills that are required to gain a decent job in the garment factory.
At this crucial time, she learned about Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ TVET Programme, which selects youngsters to receive technical and vocational education and training. While cross-checking the preliminary information of the youngsters in the areas and seeking consent from their family members/guardians, Shomi’s mother provided full consent indicating that, “If the centre would manage her speech disorder, she can receive TVET training.” Afterward, Shomi played a role as a community volunteer. With the help of the programme, she visited the Polli Garment Training Centre and was admitted to receive training for one month.
She received assistance from the Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) to overcome her speech disorder. Shomi showed a quick learner attitude while learning skills such as controlling sewing machines, making collars, and front pockets with different fabrics. She also informs other youths about the TVET programme so that they receive training and employment in the garment sector.
“I realised that TVET can help us obtain decent jobs, which leads to a dignified life for vulnerable youngsters from marginalised families including those with disabilities such as myself. I regained my dream and proved myself”, Shomi added.
Shomi is the breadwinner for her family now. Despite her indomitable dream to obtain a decent job, she could not find the way to make her dream true due to her disability and lack of skills. As a trainee through the TVET Programme, Shomi rigidly improved her speech disorder and realised what skills are actually needed for a gainful job. She stood at the same position on the ladder while she was a child labourer. Completing her TVET placement, she proved herself that her dreams can be achieved.
“Skills are important. With the right knowledge and skills, any youth can succeed. If anybody has a disability and gets special needs and care, s/he can make a change. I want to take my life forward as far as I can for myself and for my mother. Today, I am the kind of person that does not let their dreams slip away despite having a disability. My learning with the TVET programme inspires me to contribute to the development of my society and country”, Shomi ended.