‘I want to be a doctor, that would change everything for me and my family’ - Maisa
Maisa is 12 years old and lives in a slum in southern Bangladesh. Her father has died and her mother is sick with a heart problem so Maisa has to earn more money. Consequently she is working on the beach as tour guide, then in the evening she is responsible for her four sisters. She grows a vegetable garden, and cooks for the whole family. She cannot attend school as without her the family will have no income. Not very conducive to training to be a doctor.
Children on the Edge together with our partner MUKTI, support nine Community Schools specifically set up to help children like Maisa who work the Cox’s Bazar beach area. Here she can receive a nutritious meal, attend lessons, freshen up with a wash and have the chance to play and rest with her friends. As class time is just a few hours in teh afternoon, Maisa is still free to earn for her family. She does her homework in the evenings and she is part of a Child Committee which encourages her to grow in confidence in expressing her opinion on how the programme is run and develop leadership skills.
Staff at the Community Schools have a specific focus on increasing recruitment of girls to ensure their access to opportunities and to contribute to breaking of the cycle of child marriage. Staff work alongside children’s families, helping parents and carers to understand the value of education, helping to achieve high attendance rates and long term commitment to and support for their children’s education.
Maisa has already learnt to read, loves school and says she is happy that it is changing her fate.
This article is written as part of the marking of the 2015 International Women's Day. This year's theme, “Empowering Women - Empowering Humanity: Picture It!" envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
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