On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations has recognized Four Bangladeshi youths, including the young slum dweller Ankhi of Khulna’s Rupsha Char, as ‘Real Life Heroes’. The other three young men from Bangladesh are former Daksu member Tanbir Hasan Shaikat, BRAC engineer Rizvi Hasan and translator Sifat Noor.
17 years of Akhi, the second daughter of Masud Mollah, who lives in the Rupsha Char slum, said, “When the coronavirus pandemic started, masks were not available in the market. Although they were available in some shops, they were expensive. But at this time wearing masks was a must-do thing, so I decided to make my own and sell it at a lower price so that all the poor people in the area can wear the mask. ” “I gave away my masks for free to those who had no money,” She added.
Akhi’s father Masud Mollah, was working in a shrimp processing factory when he met with an accident while working there and became physically disabled. Akhir’s mother Anwara Begum also worked in a shrimp processing factory but it became impossible for her to support her family on her own. Akhi had just passed the fifth grade, so she joined a shrimp processing factory with her older sister to help her mother, so she stopped going to school.
Two years ago, Abeda Sultana, a project worker for World Vision, saw Akhi working in a shrimp processing plant and rescued her and took her to school. But as Akhi was older, he could not be admitted to any school. Eventually seeing Akhir’s interest, World Vision managed to give her sewing training through a project for life. At the end of the training, Akhi was given a sewing machine and some clothes so that he could start his own business. Akhi started the business of making clothes, sewing clothes of the people of the area at home, and earning an average of 3000 rupees a month. Akhi began to see the happy face of their family in this earning.
“But when the coronavirus started spreading in our country, everything came to a standstill. The shrimp processing plant also closed down, so my mother and sister lost their livelihood. I was forced to close my small shop. I continue my sewing business but my income has gone down as the number of buyers has gone down. At one point I started sewing clothes as well as making masks with the cloth to help the poor people in the area cope with the coronavirus.”
On 19 August 2020, on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations recognized Akhi along with three others as a real-life hero. her success has been widely publicized in various media outlets in Bangladesh, with BBC Bangla airing an interview last August 20. According to BBC Bangla, the United Nations thinks that the initiative of these real-life heroes in tackling the Coronavirus will encourage others as well.
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