My name is Antora Akter. I am sixteen years old (16) and live in Tarutia village under Tangail district in Bangladesh with my parents and one brother. My father is the only one with an income in my family, he is a farmer and my mother is a housewife. I have completed class ten but had to withdraw from school due to poverty. I gave up hope to be educated or to work to earn money.
One day I heard an announcement that CMES was offering free skills training in various trades like fashion garments, computer and vermicompost in my village. I was very happy to hear this and went to the Rural Technology Centre (RTC) of CMES where the training is provided. After consulting with the trainer and facilitator I got admitted in the fashion garments trade training.
I only had basic skills in sewing but didn’t know how to operate a sewing machine and make various clothes. Over the three-month training period I learned everything I needed to be a fashion garments tailor.
Besides the skills training in fashion garments, I also attended awareness sessions on child early and forced marriage, dowry, HIV/AIDS, SRHR and women empowerment, among others. All of these made me aware of my rights and opened my eyes. I felt like I was blind before and now I could see hope in my life, hope of being independent and self-reliant through income generating activities. I also took part in social actions to prevent child marriage in my community and helping expectant mothers to get better health care by advising and taking them to the community clinic instead of depending on orthodox maternal treatment.
After completing my training in fashion garments, I worked in a tailor shop as an intern to learn and improve my skills. After the internship I bought a sewing machine with the financial help from my maternal uncle. I started my own small business with the sewing machine at my home. Initially my orders were very small, but after the customers saw my products, my orders started to increase. Now, I have a very good reputation as a skilled tailor in my community. When my order was small, I was frightened that I will fail in my business. But gradually my fear disappeared. Now I earn monthly BDT 5000-6000; I am also helping other girls and women to improve their sewing.
I get many of my orders online through my Facebook page. I engage with other girls and women and help them to complete and deliver their orders. I dream to become a very good businesswoman in future. I am grateful to CMES and RtU project for the support they have provided me.
Originally written in Bengali
Translated by Afzal Hossain, PM, RtU project, CMES.