Mahana (pseudonym),17 years, lives with her parents in a mud house in Dhulauri village in Bangladesh. Her father, 53 years, is a marginal farmer and day laborer, and her mother, 42 years, is a seasonal day laborer. She is the youngest among the sisters. Her elder sister Mukti got married at an early age.
Due to poverty she couldn’t complete secondary school and her parents wanted to marry her off. She did not want to get married as she wanted to study instead. She reached out to the Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha’s young women’s rights association (YRA) members. The YRA reached out to a schoolteacher who assisted them to convince Mahana’s parents not to marry her off. The group had to talk to the parents several times, convincing them that an educated girl is more likely to reinvest her income back into her family and community, for example, Mahana would get skills training on the Shidhulai’s solar-powered floating training center. In return she would work as a tailor to cover her own educational expenses and also support the family. Following the discussions, the parents agreed not to marry off their young daughter.
After receiving the skills training, Mahana again started going to the high school. She bought a sewing machine by borrowing money from a local cooperative. Now she is working as a tailor. She receives orders for making cloths of children and women.
“I want to continue my studies and I want to be self-reliant. The training boat has given me new skills, it has brought hope to me. I want to be a great tailor to cover my educational expenses and support my family, then my parents and community will listen to me, and I will be able to help other disadvantaged girls with my skills – and we will have a village free from child marriage” said Mahana.
Floating training centers are equipped with internet-linked laptop, multimedia equipment and educational presentations. They make their way through the rivers, docking at villages to teach young women and girls on new skills, sustainable agriculture, climate change adaptation, and women rights. Laptop connected to the internet via the cellular network provide connection between users and trainers. During the daytime the boat arrange onboard training programs and at late evening educational programs are arranged on large sailcloth so that many people can see from their own courtyards.