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The girls of Hatibandha: See life through their eyes

When you're 13, you have your whole life ahead of you – school, university, your career, family and your friends. Life is full of potential and your future is vast. But when you're 13 and living in Hatibandha, Bangladesh life looks different, especially for girls.

A girl's life in Hatibandha

Life isn't easy for girls living in Hatibandha. Located in northern Bangladesh, reaching secondary schools and health clinics is difficult. The walk can take hours and during monsoon season, the commute is only possible by boat.

As a result, the majority of girls will drop out of elementary school and marry while they're young. Lacking a basic education, these girls have little chance at becoming independent women and breaking the cycle of poverty in their families and community. Here's a snapshot of what life looks like for girls in Hatibandha:

  • Secondary schools are only located on the mainland and can take up to 1.5 hours to reach by foot. In the rainy season, students need to cross the river by boat to get to school.
  • Only 29% of students complete grade 5, and only 7% of secondary students are girls.
  • Literacy rates among children are very low at 42.47%, for girls it's 38.9%.
  • 90% of girls are married by age 18.

To better understand what life is like for these girls, meet three of the girls living in the remote community of Hatibandha and take a peek into their lives. Hear their dreams and see how they'd like to see their community change:

Morzina, 8, hopes everyone in her community has equal opportunities in life.

Morzina, 8, hopes everyone in her community has equal opportunities in life.

Morzina, age 8

Young Morzina is in grade 2, but she's witnessed her two older sister's drop out of school by the fifth grade and both marry as children. She and her six siblings live in a one-room house with her parents, located next to the river. Morzina 's father earns $3.75 per day as a farmer, but the heavy monsoon season affects his harvest every year.

"I want my village to have no floods and where everyone will be happy and have equal opportunities," says Morzina.




During monsoon season, Rahela and her sister do not go to school.

During monsoon season, Rahela and her sister do not go to school.

Rahela, age 11

Rahela is one of two daughters. She and her sister go to school, but neither attends during the rainy season. Both of her parents work long days as labourers, earning $2.50 per day. When Rahela returns home from school, she helps her mother with chores and preparing dinner. She enjoys playing with the boys, but feels the boys in her community get preferential treatment in terms of schooling and food.

"I want to improve the road and the playground of my village so that I can go to school without any hassle and play freely," says Rahela.


Nurnahar, 14, dropped out of school in grade 5.

Nurnahar, 14, dropped out of school in grade 5.

Nurnahar, age 14

Nurnahar lives with her three younger siblings in a two-room house made of straw and an iron roof. Nurnahar stopped attending school in the fifth grade because her commute to the mainland was too challenging.

"I wish we had a high school in our community so that every girl can get higher education," says Nurnahar.





Taking action for girls and their families

With your help, Plan Canada's Community Sponsorship will create a brighter future for girls in Hatibandha. Your support will help improve access to secondary education for girls, by constructing girls' dormitories and setting up boat services that can take students to and from school during the rainy season. Your support will also be used to install separate latrines for girls and boys in primary school so girls have their privacy and feel safe and comfortable attending school.

Plan will also work with the community on skills training, microfinance and income-generating initiatives targeted at girls and women that will help improve the status of girls in the community.

But we can't do this alone. YOU can help make the dreams and hopes of these girls come true.

When you invest in girls, you transform their community. Become a community sponsor today!

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