Jamal* used to run with the wrong crowd but he's turned his life around. At the Nagorik drop-in centre he's learned to read and write, and now earns a salary working in a tailoring shop.

Jamal, aged 19, is the oldest of his siblings. His father wanted him to pursue his studies and got him enrolled in a local madrasa school. However, Jamal, being rather naughty, would run away from the madrasa at any chance he got. Eventually he started roaming around with local goons and regularly skipped school. It was then that his father decided Jamal needed to work.

Jamal worked in fields as a labourer to help sustain the family. In 2017, Jamal moved to Dhaka and stayed with a neighbour from back home. The neighbour’s mother found him a job at a tailoring shop in Mirpur with a salary of 3,000 Bangladeshi taka per month (£28). However, being uneducated, Jamal could neither name the machine parts properly nor do the basic accounting work.

Jamal heard of Nagorik Uddyog’s drop-in centre and was keen to learn. He believed that if he learned the basics, it would help him manage his job better. He started visiting the centre whenever he got any free time.

"Initially I used to feel embarrassed, but gradually I learned how to read, write, and do small calculations. I also learned computers in the centre as I realised that it would help me maintain accounts in big shops.”

Now, Jamal manages an entire shop and has also gotten a pay rise, he now earns 10,000 taka (£95) per month. He feels that he is able to supervise the shop much better now but continues to visit the drop-in centre to learn more.

“I am an active peer member at the centre and have friends with whom I learn about issues such as child rights and the harmful effects of substance abuse. I eagerly wait for my days-off when I can come here. I can now write in both Bangla and English on the computer. I am able to send more money to my mother.”

He feels that his life has changed for better due to learning at the centre. Jamal wants to have his own servicing shop one day.