Sixteen-year-old Sokhina lives in a slum near the Matuail Dumping Site with her parents and siblings. She is the eldest of four children. Sokhina and her family have been living in this area for six years. Before that they lived in a rural area and her father worked as a farmer, but in 2011 they lost all their belongings due to river erosion.
After migrating to Dhaka, Sokhina and her parents started working as waste pickers in Matuail Dumping Site. Sokhina was only 10 years old and it was very difficult for her to cope with the situation. “In the village I used to live a free life. I used to spend all my time playing or roaming around the village with my friends. And in Dhaka, I started spending my whole day in waste picking in the middle of a pile of garbage.” She had to work for 10 to 12 hours a day for six days a week and earned Tk. 3,500 (£32) per month.
In 2016, a Vocational Training and Placement Officer from Grambangla Unnayan Committee visited Sokhina’s home. She learnt that she could enrol for free at the Grambangla Technical Training Centre. She decided to train in bag making and from January 2017 to June 2017 she learnt to make different types of bags, from simple paper bags for groceries to stylish occasion bags. Alongside the vocational skills training, she was taught about occupational safety, the importance of birth registration, effects of drug addiction and health and hygiene practices.
Sokhina’s new skills enabled her to leave the rubbish dump and she now works at a local packaging factory. She works eight hours a day and earns Tk. 8,500 (£78) per month. She is saving her money so she can open her own packaging shop where she and her siblings will work together.
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