Jhilmil was born in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.
Her family migrated here from the North of the country looking for work and after years of struggle, selling their tiny piece of land in their hometown to pay a loan that let them survive, they managed to settle down in Dhaka.
Jhilmil’s father is now a bus driver and her mother passed away from breast cancer when Jhilmil was as young as seven years old.
Jhilmil’s father married again and left Jhilmil and her two little siblings so her grandmother had to travel to Dhaka and take care of them but with no income, Jhilmil was forced to work as a domestic worker at 9 years old.
Cooking, washing and cleaning was my daily routine work from 7 AM to 9 PM with a salary of 21 Euro per month
Jhilmil says, “Cooking, washing and cleaning was my daily routine work from 7 AM to 9 PM with a salary of 21 Euro per month. My grandmother was earning another 21 Euro. With this little amount of money, we had to run our family including house rent, food, medicine, clothing and others.” so there was no chance to go for education.
There are around 7.2 million children aged below 14 in the workforce in Bangladesh out of which 1.29 million are involved in hazardous labour in the informal sector. The government of Bangladesh has classified 38 jobs as worst form of child labour, these include collecting garbage, working in chemical factories or shops, working in the automobile industry, working in cigarette factories, handling goods in ports and ships and working as a driver’s aide for buses, trucks or human haulers. The majority of children involved in child labour are concentrated in Dhaka and Chittagong.
Moving to a better life
In 2016, when Terre des Hommes’ partner in the area conducted survey on Child Domestic Workers for enrolling into Non-Formal Primary Education centers, they found Jhilmil in a house as a domestic worker.
When Terre des Hommes’ partner in Dhaka started working in Jhilmil’s case, they had a meeting with Jhilmil’s employer so to convince him to let her enroll in school again. She was strongly decided to continue her studies but, at first, the employer not agreed so the team insisted and after several conversations they agreed to send Jhilmil to school for two hours a day.
Soon, the team realized that Jhilmil was not attending school regularly and her employer refused to have another meeting with them. This was a long process until the employer decided to attend a meeting with other child labourers’ employers so to sensitize them about the importance of letting children enjoy their right to education.
Finally, Jhilmil started to attend school regularly. She is still being supported and monitored by the project.
Terre des Hommes provides direct support to child labourers through education, skill training and health care. Where possible, we will (re-)enroll child labourers in non-formal or formal education. We work with employers in the informal sector on child protection, code of conduct and safety in the workplace. By raising awareness on the negative effects of child labour Terre des Hommes prevents more children being exploited. Our strategy is to keep vulnerable children in school, therefore we provide early childhood education and non-formal primary education to children most at risk.
Now Jhilmil is a member of a Child Led Organization and has enrolled her little sister and brother in school. Her employer is paying her 42 euros per month now and allows her to go to school regularly. She is enjoying holidays as well.
“My dream was surviving. Now, my dream to become a police officer.” Jhilmil said. “I want to continue my studies as long as I can and to continue supporting my sibling’s to be properly educated. I do not want them to become child labourers like me. I want to give them a better life. I know, I have to work hard for this, and I am ready for that.”
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