Determined to learn: Sabina defies the odds in rural Bangladesh

Sabina

Meet Sabina

Sabina, 17, is one of the top performing students in her rural community of Hatibandha, Bangladesh where she dreams of becoming a teacher. Unfortunately though, like so many other girls brimming with potential, Sabina’s outstanding achievements would not be enough to guarantee the continuation of her studies.

A future in jeopardy

As in many communities across the developing world, girls in Hatibandha face several barriers to their education. They are often restricted from attending school due to defined gender roles and issues that stem from poverty, including high tuition costs, low incomes, and remote location.

Resources in this community are limited, and parents often cannot afford to pay their children’s school fees – particularly if their child is female. Traditionally, in rural Bangladesh, parents offer a dowry in exchange of their daughter’s hand in marriage, and as the age of the girl increases, so too does the expense of the dowry.

To alleviate this financial strain, poor families reluctantly remove their girls from costly schooling, and have them marry instead. This contributes to high child marriage rates in Hatibandha, along with low school enrollment for girls. About 90% of girls are married by the time they are 18, while only 7% of secondary school students are female.

Sabina heads to school.

“I am a poor farmer,” said Sabina’s father. “I was in a dilemma whether I could admit Sabina to school. But now she is going regularly.”

Changing minds, changing lives

Education plays a crucial role in breaking the cycle of poverty. With Plan’s support, and encouragement from Plan staff and teachers, not to mention her dedication to her studies, Sabina was able to continue her schooling and convince her family to renew their commitment to her education.

“I got an A on my examination so I could inspire my father to help me keep going. This dream has come true and now I am enrolled in a very good school and looking forward to a brighter future,” Sabina said with pride – a pride that we, her parents, and her community share.

“My relatives, neighbours and I are very proud,” beamed her father.

Sabina and her family.

Sabina and her family. “After having Plan with us, we are aware of child development and their rights,” said Sabina’s parents. “We are grateful to Plan for providing this support to us.”

A new, promising start

Every day Sabina gets up at 5am and takes one of the community’s new school boats to school. But her long day doesn’t hold her back from other activities.

“I have participated in most of the events in our community,” she says, “and I am also the secretary of our Children’s Organization and general member of the Child Protection Group.”

When asked about her hopes for the future, Sabina responded that she wants to see an end to the practice of child marriage. For now, she’s excited about being chosen as one of the community’s new swimming trainers. In this role she helps teach other children how to stay safe in a region prone to flooding, gaining valuable experience to help her fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher!

Sabina and her younger brother and sister.

Sabina also tutors her younger sister, Sumi (pictured at left), who shares Sabina’s dream of one day becoming a teacher. “I hope all children will go to school and no one will drop out,” said Sumi.

Thanks to our Hatibandha community sponsors, girls like Sabina now have a chance to learn and pursue their dreams, which helps create a brighter future for everyone.

It starts with a community. And you.

Community Sponsorship is an impactful way to help communities develop tools and skills to become self-sufficient. Help us improve the lives children and their families in Kita, Mali.