“I had to pay off a bank loan by working as a housemaid at the bank manager’s house. It was pathetic and horrible as well,” said Masuma Begum, a 30-year-old mother.
Masuma has come from a family of 2 brothers and 3 sisters. All of her siblings are married and live separately except her younger brother. Her father’s name is late Abdul Mannan Fakir and mother’s name is Alo Begum. They are from Barisal district which is located in the southern part of Bangladesh.
One day Masuma's father was working on a paddy field and suddenly he got sick. Afterward, her family took a bank loan for his better treatment. But it was very hard for them to repay the installments of the loan and they couldn’t do it. Then the bank manager offered Masuma's family to send her to his home as a housemaid so that he could cut a portion from her salary as an installment for the loan that needs to be repaid. After the cut, Masuma only got 200 taka each month. Though it was very hard, after six months she made peace with it. Then one day like an uninvited guest sickness visited her when she was doing her daily chores and she came back home.
“That time, we were encountering a miserable life both financially and mentally. My younger brother stopped his study because of poverty and my elder sister got married. We used to eat once in a day,” Masuma was describing her struggling period.
A few days later, Masuma took a decision that she would go to Dhaka for a better job so that they could repay the bank loan. She went to Dhaka with her mother and younger brother and started living at her brother in law’s place. At first, she and her mother started working as a housemaid but very soon Masuma joined a garments factory as a helper with a salary of 900 Taka per month. A few months later, she was appointed as a sewing machine operator and her salary increased to 1400 from 900 Taka. Then she brought her father and younger sister to Dhaka. Her father started a business of selling vegetables on the roadside. In the meantime, Masuma got married to her loved one. Her husband’s name is Kabir. Soon they repaid the bank loan for what she had to work like a bondservant.
“Everything was going right but suddenly my father got sick again and he went back to our village in Barisal. I used to send him money for his treatment. That time I gave birth to my daughter Kobita. When Kobita was one year old, my father had died. It was a very crucial time for me,” Masuma was describing her distress.
They have been living in Chalantika slum area for the last 7 years. This is not a suitable place to live in. They live in a single room with a roof made of CI sheet and walls made of concrete. One day Masuma got an electric shock while she was working and she was about to die but she survived luckily. Her husband is the only earning person in the family. He earns around 10 thousand Taka per month. Masuma also helped her husband by doing some sewing work.
“I heard about the literacy session of CSCDP Center from one of our neighbors. I had participated in a couple of sessions organized by ADRA and I started to attend their adult literacy session regularly. Gradually, I was attending all of their programs such as health session, sewing training session, and some problem-based workshop,” said Masuma. “At present, I take orders to make clothes as I have a sewing machine and training. Now, I can financially contribute to my family,” she added.
Kobita Akhter Mim is Masuma's only daughter who is now studying in grade three at CSCDP Center and is a very bright student. They are getting full support from ADRA Bangladesh. During her leisure time, Masuma does vegetable gardening in front of her room. “Masuma apa (sister) is a good person. She is very helpful to her neighbors,” said Ameena who is a neighbor of Masuma. “She also knows tailoring work very well,” she added.
All her life Masuma has been combatting against poverty to attain the basic needs of a human being and regretting about education. She couldn’t study because of poverty. She knows the hardship of an illiterate person, that’s why she wants to make her daughter educated for her better future. She got this encouragement and motivation from CSCDP center. Now, Masuma Begum is very grateful to ADRA Bangladesh.