Sharmin’s story: educating girls to overcome poverty

17-year-old Sharmin, from Bangladesh, dropped out of school after completing grade 4 to support her family, selling food on the roadside with her mother.

This reality is all too often faced by children in Bangladesh, where 3.2 million children aged 5-17 are engaged in child labour (UNICEF). Child labour is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity as well as being harmful to physical and mental development.

Through the help of World Vision’s Empowering Working Children Project, Sharmin has now resumed school and is studying in grade 7.

Sharmin studies hard to achieve her biggest dream; becoming a police officer. Outside of school she still helps her mother make pitha (a kind of homemade cake) to bring in money to support the family.

I feel so blessed for getting the opportunity to start my studying again and it was really not possible if the learning centre of World Vision Bangladesh hadn’t been there for street children and child labourers like me.

- Sharmin

Luckily for Sharmin, her family supports her pursuit of education, unlike many other girls in similar situations. Her father, Chan, works as a night guard and sells paper bags during the day. He attended the Parenting Skill Session conducted by the Empowering Working Children project and was motivated to get his daughter back into education. He is now highly supportive of his daughter’s education.

Sharmin’s mother, Rokeya, also attended the Parenting Skills Session. She dreams one day her daughter will get a good job and help contribute to the family’s financial situation.

“When I came to know - from the parenting skills session and Sharmin’s teachers - that there is no way to overcome poverty other than educating girls, I made up my mind to send my daughter to school again. Now I am happier than ever,” says Sharmin’s mother, Rokeya.

Dr. Halim, a member of the Child Labour Prevention Committee, works in the community to encourage parents to send their children to school so they can have a better life and brighter future.

Sharmin’s teachers (featured left and centre) played a large role in convincing Sharmin’s parents to send her back to school. They are very happy to have her back in the classroom.

Sharmin is extremely happy to be back in school again. She loves to study and spend time with friends. She's also a child representative of the Child Labour Prevention Committee where she inspires other working children to continue their studies. She is in an excellent position to share her learnings on child rights and child protection issues with her community.

World Vision works around the world through child sponsorship and other projects to help reduce children’s vulnerability to trafficking, abuse and exploitation. We have been working in Bangladesh since 1970 to improve access to education and to ensure children are protected and cared for. Over 6,000 children in Bangladesh have been helped through sponsorship from the United Kingdom. Find out more about how you can help vulnerable children in Bangladesh.

My fairy-tale, their horror story

A wedding day that could have been so different. Temwa from Malawi has just married the man of her dreams – but other girls from her home face a very different idea of ‘bride.’

Why I joined the It Takes A World campaign: A youth advocate’s story

Youth advocates like 19-year-old biochemistry student Asini have been working with us to help end violence against children.

How modern slavery is destroying childhoods

World Vision UK's Erica Hall on the crisis of children who are forced into horrifying exploitation.

The overwhelming joy of meeting the girl I have sponsored for a decade

Angela Farries travelled with children’s charity World Vision to Tanzania in November 2018