Stories from the field

Forced by fate, empowered by courage

Light on the hills

Milita Tripura’s is a 20-year-old electrician from Bandarban, the hilly region of Bangladesh.  She could not continue her studies due to financial constraint. Milita’s aunt, who is a trainer of a partner training institute of Sudokkho, motivated her to participate in Sudokkho training. She decided to participate in the house wiring electrician trade because of the high demand of electricians in Bandarban. She is currently working as a part-time electrician under sub-contractors in Bandarban. Her monthly income is no less than 7000 taka per month. Milita recognises the tangible benefits of her active participation in the training. She has been trained in topics that have enabled her to increase income, diversify her family’s nutrition needs and improve their health and well-being.

“My dream is to open an electrical shop where all kinds of electrical equipment’s would be available”

- Milita Tripura, Electrician, Bandarban

The free mason

Munni Sardar was a typical homemaker whose life evolved around her family. Looking after her children, taking care of her husband and in laws. Now she is working under a sub-contractor as a mason.

Before Sudokkho training, her only connection to the outside world was the conversations she had overheard between her husband and his friends. Munni’s husband is an agricultural worker whose income was not enough. She wanted to contribute. At first her husband did not agree at all. He was mostly worried about the social pressure. Munni patiently tried to persuade her husband and made him understand the benefit it would bring to their poor family.

Despite social stigma and resistance, Munni took the challenge and got trained from a partner PTP and started working as a mason. Now she earns 400 taka per day and contributes to the family. She finally has her financial freedom and her opinion in the family is valued.

 “I want to become a contractor in future”

Munni Sordar, Mason, Jessore

The daughter of Santal

Ratna Kisku is a Santal woman from Jaipurhat. She is working as an operator in Azim Group at Savar. Apparently shy to the appearance Ratna has tremendous amount of strength inside.

Anticipating resistance from her family she came to Dhaka without informing them to change her life for the better. After duelling with much adversity, she managed to get enrolled in sewing machine operator training at New Saint Mary’s Training Institute, a partner training institute of Sudokhho.

Soon after Ratna got a job in a factory of Azim group after the one-month long training. She is living on her own now and taking care of herself, which seemed a farfetched dream when she first decided to leave home. Ratna is taking care her family as well that gave her respect in her family and community.

Determination breaks all odds

Rehana Khatun is a resident of Jagadishpur in Chowgacha. She lives with her mother and brothers but in a separate household. Rehana has two children; one daughter and a son. Her husband abandoned the family four years back. He lives with his second wife in Dhaka. Rehana has been taking care of her children for the last four years, since the separation. She is not seeking divorce keeping in mind the social pressure she may have to go through. Rehana rather chose to become independent.

Rehana heard about CMIT from a relative and recruitment announcement in the community by CMIT. She came to learn about Sudokkho training system when she got enrolled in the sewing machine operator trade. Rehana is a first batch trainee. It took her two months to complete the training. Rehana started working in Divine garments as a general operator after the training. Rehana could not pay her fees during the training. She is repaying CMIT in instalments now.

Rehana earns enough to support her family. She is happy that she has not become a burden for her mother and brothers. She is getting respect from her family and the community. Rehana’s only goal in life now is to bring up the children right by giving them proper education. It gives her complacency to see her children fed three times a day and see them going to school in their uniform.

Rehana says, “with determination you can beat all odds. I want to see my children get educated and succeed in life even if they do not have a father”.

The story of a boy who had to become a man

Shakil Rahman lives in Mud circle in Chowgacha. He lives with his family. Shakil’s family has five members; his parents, younger brother and elder sister who is married but lives separately from her husband. Shakil was supposed to enjoy life and have fun with his friends at this age but he had to take responsibility of the family and become the man of the house after his father got ill. Shakil, at the age of twenty, now takes care of the family, his father’s treatment and his brother’s education. Ironically, he had to drop out of school after seventh grade to earn a living.

Shakil heard about CMIT from an elder brother and recruitment announcement in the community by CMIT. He came to learn about Sudokkho training system when he got enrolled in the tile fitter trade in CMIT. Shakil is a second batch trainee. It took him thirty-five days to complete the training. Shakil started working as an assistant to a master tile fitter of the locality. Shakil could not pay full fees during the training. He is repaying CMIT in instalments now.

Shakil is very positive about the Sudokkho training system as he sees the applicability of the training in his professional work. However, he pointed out that the training method and equipment are modern in comparison to the actual work practice is his locality.

Shakil earns enough to support his family. He is enthusiastic about his little brother going to school. Shakil has already referred five new trainees to CMIT and intends to bring more to the institute. He thinks this training is very helpful to create income opportunity. Shakil says, “I want to become a master tile fitter one day and have my own team of assistants”.

Amena becomes Supervisor from trainee operator

Amena (24) is working in Cutting Edge Industries Ltd. She has been selected as supervisor from trainee operator of 1st batch. Amena is an energetic female. She came to Dhaka in January 2019 from Eastern part of Bangladesh.

Before coming in garments, she didn’t have any idea about the sector. The factory management chose her for trainee operator in 1st batch. Amena shared, “I never thought I became an operator within 15 working days without having any knowledge about garments sector or sewing.”  Very soon she could run three machines with 5 to 6 processes including 3 to 4 critical processes. In September 2019 the factory’s head of I.E asked her what her dream to be in future. She replied, “I want to be Mamun Sir (GM, Production) in future, if you teach me properly.” The Head of I.E liked her confidence. After considering her education and learning capability they selected her (Amena) as supervisor. From October 2019 Amena is taking training as supervisor. The factory will promote her and will change her designation from April after completing 6 months training.

Amena was a simple housewife in village. Her husband bought a motorbike with loan of 50 thousand taka in order to rent passenger. Unfortunately, the husband would spend all earning money without paying loan. With that couple of months later another misery happened in their life. The husband had an accident which led them to sell the bike but whole selling amount was expended for treatment. So the family has to pay loan by themselves. After recovering from accident Amena’s husband came and involved into a work in washing factory with 8 thousand taka which was not enough to pay their loan. So that Amena also had to come Dhaka and decided to take job in garments factory.

Amena is now receiving 8,855 BDT as grade 5 operator. She paid the loan and taking another loan to take 33 decimal land as mortgage. In every month she has to pay 5600 BDT for paying loan. She has a one son. Her widow mother is taking care of her son. Amena wants to continue her job. She said, “I want to continue my work until my dream comes true. I wish if I were a general manager in the factory.”

“I never thought I can be operator within short time”

One year ago (2018) Mala joined in Saturn Tex Ltd as helper. In January 2019 factory enrolled her in training centre and integrated to floor in the same month. She stayed in training room for 17 days. She shared that “I had no idea about how to do a process. I learnt side seam joining. Within 3 weeks I learnt the process. I never thought I can be operator within short time.”

Mala studied till class eight and achieved 4.30 in JSC in 2017. Her father is land labour. She has one sister and one brother. Her elder brother is a student of Honours course and her sister is married. Suddenly her father became sick and unable to support their family which lead Mala to quit from education and taking job in garments with the help of a relative

6 to 7 months ago she was married off with a village boy who is working as house painter and earns good amount of money. Every month Mala sends minimum 5,000 BDT to village. Mala shared, “Now I can send money to my father. He takes mortgage of land and works there.”

Mala wanted to continue her education, but misfortune lead her to quit from the study. She believes that still she has chance to achieve a good fortune by developing her skill.

“Empowered woman and strengthened responsibility”

Rumi is a training room trainer of Sudokkho project. She started to work as trainer from November 2017. Before that she was a senior operator in Chaity Composite Ltd. Rumi is the only income earner of her family. Her husband is paralysed due to have an accident. She is mother of two daughters. Her eldest daughter is 16 and the youngest one is only 7. Both daughters are studying in school. Rumi shared happily, “My eldest daughter is very good student. She is now appearing at Secondary School Certificate exam on this 2019.”

In 2007 Rumi started to work in garments as a helper. Poverty leads her to take job in garments. “My husband worked in workshop. He would earn very little amount. To support my family I took the job in garments.” Two months later of working in garments Rumi learnt to operate machine and one day when an operator of her line was absent, she informed the line supervisor that she would like to do that process. Rumi’s performance to the new process drew attention to the line chief which resulted to be an operator.

In the mid of 2012 Rumi became mother of her youngest child which compelled her to leave work as she had nobody to take care of her youngest daughter. Another disaster destroyed her life in the same year - Rumi’s husband had an accident in road from his way back to home. The accident paralyzed her husband. In one hand she couldn’t take work in garments as she had to take care of her husband and child, in another hand she needed big amount of money for her husband’s treatment. With the help of some relatives she started cloth business but, in the meantime, she fell in debt of 6 lakh BDT but the small cloth business was not producing enough revenue to pay this loan back. Four years later when her child was grown up and husband was little bit better, she again joined in garments as an operator in 2016. She was doing good at then and was promoted as senior operator very soon but that could not help her to resolve her problems. As the promotion although helped to earn little more money but the extra work pressure (over time) jeopardise her family life.

In November 2017 Sudokkho project relieved her from so many anxieties. The factory has increased her salary on average of her overtime. She doesn’t need to do overtime but receives more than her previous salary. Now she is considered as staff and able to go home without being worried for over time.

She shared, “After being in Sudokkho project, now I can go home early. I can take care of my family. I also drove away my tension to earn more money through overtime because the factory increased my salary in a handsome amount. So I can easily maintain my husband’s treatment cost, children’s education expenses and can also pass my time with my family. I am so grateful to Sudokkho project. It has given me a dream life.”