Akhtari* is 13 years old and lives with her parents and older sisters in Dhaka. She has big dreams of becoming and banker and is determined to finishing her schooling.

A year after her birth, Akhtari's father started working at a dairy farm and mother joined a garment factory. Until the age of 3, Akhtari was taken of care by her older sisters in their family home. Then she was enrolled in a pre-school.

Sadly, the family’s financial problems lead to Akhtari dropping out of school after two years, as they could not afford the fees. Her sisters had to take up work in an embroidery factory to help their parents run the household. Since Akhtari needed to be taken care of at home, her mother left her job at the garment factory to care for her. Her father also left the dairy and started working as a security guard.

One day, Akhtari’s older sister got to know about Nagorik Uddyog’s (NU) drop-in centre, from a staff member at the centre. Upon learning about the facilities at the centre, she decided to enrol Akhtari there. As her parents couldn’t afford to enrol her in a school, the free drop-in centre was a promising option.

In 2015, at the age of 7, Akhtari started studying in the centre. She was an attentive student and shortly after she was moved up into the second grade.

After two years at the centre, Akhtari’s family’s improved financial condition allowed them to enrol her into primary school. In 2017, she was provided with a transfer certificate by the centre and enrolled in a formal school.

In 2020, Akhtari learned that the drop-in centre was providing a basic tailoring course to interested adolescents. She expressed her interest to the teacher at the centre and was enrolled in the training programme. On the four-months long training course, she learned how to design dresses.

"I have learned good basic skills in tailoring. I am confident that I will be able to contribute to my family’s financial stability by working in a tailoring shop.”

At the same time, Akhtari is determined to continue her education.

"My mother couldn’t study but has high hopes for me. The support from the drop-in centre has given me a lot of confidence and built my awareness. I want to become a banker when I grow up." 

She appreciates the support from her teachers at the centre as well as at school and dreams of helping other children, in similar situations, when she grows up.