“I think the cyclone of 2009 was a blessing in disguise.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, if the cyclone hadn’t come, then our house wouldn’t be blown away, and I would have been forced to marry the neighbor’s son the following year, when I would have been only 10 years old.
“How did the hurricane save you?”
“Well, we didn’t really have very much to begin with, but because our house blew away, people from local community groups came to help us. They gave us money, and suddenly the financial obligation of finding me a husband because my family couldn’t support me financially was not a problem. I have never been to school, but suddenly I was given the option of following my dreams, and pursue my interest of opening a cosmetics store was possible.”
“How did it happen?”
“I received 10,000 taka as an adolescent stipend from a local NGO (roughly 120 USD). I took a boat to Khulna and bought all the things that I would myself have liked to buy, had I any cash. And because I bought everything that I personally liked, I bought only things which I found special. And everyone realizes when you handle your products with care. They start to appreciate you, and tell you that you know how to notice details.”
(Dacope, Bangladesh). Photo courtesy of UNICEF/Shafiqul Alam Kiron