Khadija's Story: Reaching for the Stars

Khadija’s family used to live in a small, fenced-in house near a river bank in the Gorashal village of Rajshahi district’s Bagmara upazila. Khadija’s father, Abdul Khalek, worked as a helper at a truck garage, but his daily income barely supported the family. Having no land or property to provide necessities for a living, her family ended up migrating to the city. Currently, they are situated in Mathura village of Rajshahi’s Poba upazila. Khadija’s mother Nasima Begum, a housewife, looks after the cow given by BRAC after the family came up in the survey of families in marginal poverty, and her brother is a student at BRAC’s pre-primary school.

Although Khadija wanted to finish fifth grade in the government initiated ‘Hard-to-Reach’ project, she could not continue studying due to financial problems. In order to contribute to the family, she had to work as a domestic help. Later on, through a survey, Khadija was chosen as a learner for BRAC’s STAR project. As per her father’s choice, Khadija started her training on motorcycle repairing. Initially, she was discouraged by many people from pursuing this trade, who raised doubts such as ‘How can a girl work in a marketplace? Can she be able to make anything out of this trade?’ Despite everyone’s effort to bring her down, Khadija was determined, and her willingness was evoked from her Master Crafts Person’s (MCP) help, her father’s support and her peers’ acceptance of her.

Soon, she was able to master the skill of motorcycle repairing, proving her critics wrong. Now, when people come to the workshop, they ask for Khadija, as they admit she is very skilled in her craft. A diligent and hardworking student, Khadija credits her MCP for guiding her throughout the training. Her MCP, Mohammad Raihan Raja is a BRAC primary school graduate. He studied till fifth grade and later started working with his father in his motor garage. Although he was trained by his father, Raihan promises to train many girls like Khadija and present them to the society as independent individuals.

Khadija dreams of freeing her family from the bondage of poverty. She saved the allowance she received from her training in her bank account. She gave her earnings from the workshop to her parents. Last Eid, she bought gifts for her family members from her own income. All her family members dream that someday, through her working, Khadija will become an independent woman in the future. Even BRAC officials in Rajshahi have high hopes for her, and they want people to take Khadija’s accomplishment as an example of how men and women can learn to work amiably in the same field without facing workplace discriminations based on gender.