Young people in Bangladesh face a precarious future, despite living in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
A third of Bangladesh’s population is 10-24 years old. Approximately ten million young people are currently unemployed or underemployed. An on-the-job apprenticeship model is slowly changing the employment landscape in Bangladesh. It equips young people with the skills that employers need. It has graduated more than 28,000 apprentices to date, skilling them under master crafts persons in 25 different demand-driven trades. Shireen is one of them. After graduating, 95% continue in employment or become entrepreneurs.
“I got married at 13. My husband criticised my dark skin and left me with an 11-year-old child. I was ready to take my own life. Fate intervened in the form of Jhuma, who convinced me to take up work at her parlour – as a cleaner at first, then as a makeup artist trained under BRAC’s apprenticeship programme.
Jhuma is my saviour. She treats me like her daughter. All the girls in the parlour go to her and talk to her about everything. Jhuma and the girls at the parlour make sure I do not hold myself back because of my past and that hole in my life.
I look forward to walking the short distance to my workplace – a small beauty parlour in the middle of Mirpur’s bustling streets – every day. I know that I will be dressing brides, straightening hair and plucking eyebrows, as I do every day under Jhuma’s watchful eyes.
I work hard to make my clients happy, hoping their marriages work out better than mine did.
I will soon be leaving for Dubai to replace my aunt at a beauty parlour. I am not afraid at all of a fresh start in a foreign country – in fact, I look forward to it, as I have done with everything ever since Jhuma made me come back from the point of no return. I was once determined to drain all colour from my life, but now beads and brushes and patterns fill my world.”