The radio is on full blast as we drive down the winding roads of north-eastern Bangladesh. News, music, discussions. As we come closer to Moulvibazar city, the young people we are travelling with turn up the volume even more. The dialect changes. Everything is suddenly in their local tongue - Sylheti.
When the rest of the world relates ‘self-defense’ to learning physical, martial arts skills, what does it mean for young girls from a displaced community, which also happens to be the world’s most persecuted minority? Do they realise that raising voices can be one of the most critical tools in their self-defence kits? Our social workers have begun empowering adolescent girls from the Rohingya community by creating awareness of their own agency.
Deep inside the chaotic makeshift settlements of Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, is a spacious, shaded, colourful place. A bamboo structure with handmade decorations hanging from the walls. Curious onlookers gather outside the thatched windows, attracted by the rhythm.
A total of 47 Bangladeshi development organisations, edupreneurs, social innovators and accelerator programmes joined BRAC's social innovation lab for an intense 90-minute sprint, this September. We brainstormed on how our education system can work for our future, and how we can solve the existing roadblocks.
Brishty Akhter, 18, is a skilled tailor who owns a business where she trains and employs other girls in southern Bangladesh. She started learning tailoring at 16 and then her parents used the money that they had saved for her marriage to buy her the business.
You may have read the news today. A teenager was harassed on her way back from school. A housewife, raped and murdered. Just the other day, you read about the rape of an eight-month-old baby. Do these stories bother you? Or did you fold up the newspaper and sigh in relief thinking, “At least my daughter is safe.”
Jazirah Namukose, 18, left school feeling the sting of rejection. Classmates discriminated against her because of her disability- a clubfoot. But her life changed when she started going to the Kikaaya girls’ club in northern Kampala, Uganda. She gained skills and the confidence to start her own business- and found friends who didn’t treat her differently because of her disability.
An hour away in the rural town of Tongi, Mahmuda Akhter, 16, sits in a mobile phone servicing shop in the main market. A stressed looking customer rushes in with his phone. Holding a small screwdriver, Mahmuda pries open the cover of his mobile and diagnoses the problem.
A few months ago, Thaingkhali High School in south-eastern Bangladesh had neither safe water supply nor adequate facilities for handwashing. Without safe water in the school premises during the dry season, students felt dehydrated, becoming sleepy and unable to concentrate during lessons.