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Comic Relief supporting Room to Read in Bangladesh

May 18, 2020

Girls' Education Bangladesh

This Thursday make sure to watch Red Nose Day 2020 on NBC at 9pm ET/PT as a host of celebrities take part in fun activities to raise money for charitable causes. This year, Room to Read is honored to be a partner of Red Nose Day. 

The story below is from a girl enrolled on our Girls’ Education Program directly benefiting from Red Nose Day’s fundraising. 

 

Keya is a girl in Cox’s Bazar, a coastal region in southern Bangladesh, who is enrolled in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program. In 2017, the region experienced a large refugee influx, taking in nearly one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. The rapid increase in population has caused economic and social tensions, yet the causes of poverty an discrimination in  Cox’s Bazar have been  long-present. Gender discrimination is prevalent in Cox’s Bazar, exacerbated by education services that are overcapacity and  families struggling financially.  

 As a  result,  there  are  high  levels  of  child  marriage  and  early  pregnancy  in  the  region  due  to  societal  and  family  pressures,  resulting in girls not attending school. For Keya, escaping gender discrimination has been nearly impossible. Keya, in Grade 7, has already faced years of harassment throughout her lifetime. She has been regularly verbally abused on the street by men looking to intimidate her. The situation escalated to the point that men broke her bedroom window to try and physically harass her during the night. Not  only  was  her  safety  compromised,  but  so  was  her  ability  to  receive  an  education  to  achieve  her  dream  of  becoming  a  politician to help the next generation of girls. It is vital for Keya and other girls to learn from Room to Read’s life skills classes, which empower girls to protect their safety and navigate obstacles like discrimination. This was not  the  only  obstacle  Keya  faced.  While suffering from  irregular  menstruation,  Keya  was  pressured  not  to  attend  school. In certain communities in Bangladesh, there is a taboo around menstruation and girls are not allowed to leave their homes.  At one  point,  her  community  sought  “local  magic”  to  help  her,  rather than trusting medical science. Thankfully, with the generous  support  of  Comic  Relief’s  Red  Nose  Day,  Keya  is  now  on-track  to  fulfill  her  dream  of  becoming  a  politician  and  changing her community for the better.

After enrolling in  Room  to  Read’s  Girls’  Education  Program  last  year,  her  social  mobilizer  assisted  her  through  the  obstacles  that  she’d  been  facing. Social mobilizers are local women who mentor and support girls in secondary school enrolled in our program.  To ensure Keya and  other  girls  like  her  do  not  fall  behind,  Keya’s  social  mobilizer  convinced  the  community of the benefits of keeping girls in school and the importance of  consistent  attendance.  With the support of  her  social  mobilizer,  Keya’s  community  understood  the  importance  of  promoting  safety  and  education for girls. Keya also learned key skills to help her succeed in school and overcome the challenges she faced. Keya now attends school every day! 

Today, Keya  is  on  a  new  path  to  leave  a  lasting  legacy  for  change,  crediting  Room  to  Read’s  life-changing  Girls’  Education  Program: “I have learned here how to be independent, self-sufficient and self-reliant. How to avoid and how to speak up about harassment. I have learned all these things from the life skills education sessions.”

“I have learned here how to be independent, self-sufficient and self-reliant. How to avoid and how to speak up about harassment. I have learned all these things from the life skills education sessions.”