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Meet Akhi from Bangladesh: Supported by Comic Relief US – Red Nose Day

May 24, 2021

Girls' Education Partners Bangladesh

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The story below is from a girl enrolled in our Girls’ Education Program directly benefiting from funds raised through Red Nose Day, a campaign run by the nonprofit organization Comic Relief US.

Akhi is an eighth-grade student from Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – a region that is home to nearly one million refugees who fled Myanmar in 2017. In 2019, Room to Read began working in Akhi’s community thanks to support from Red Nose Day. Together, we have been able to provide support to students as local schools and government services struggled to adapt to the large influx of refugees.

Akhi is beginning her third year with Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program and is grateful for the impact it has had on her life. As the fourth of seven siblings, she comes from a large family and her parents have often had financial trouble. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the family’s finances took a downturn. In order to help the family, her mother started a small-scale livestock farming operation. This left Akhi responsible for more chores around the house, making it challenging to keep up with her studies from home.

Throughout the course of 2020, Akhi had regular phone mentoring sessions with a Room to Read Social Mobilizer, local women who mentor and support girls in secondary school enrolled in our Girls' Education Program. During these mentoring sessions, Akhi received guidance that helped her to balance her new household duties with her schoolwork.

“Room to Read is doing outstanding work to minimize negative attitudes toward girls in my community. Throughout the school closure they have been communicating with us, following up with Akhi and informing us how important education is in Akhi’s life. I’m really thankful to Room to Read because they are doing a lot for my daughter.” Akhi's Mother Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
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In addition to mentoring, girls in our program attend Life Skills Education classes, which guide them to develop skills such as critical-thinking, empathy and self-reliance to help them meet day-to-day challenges and make informed decisions. During school closures, our Social Mobilizers have also encouraged girls to explore creative projects as an outlet for stress and a form of self-expression. Akhi has taken to drawing and painting. She even developed a series of pieces inspired by International Day of the Girl Child.

Akhi’s Social Mobilizer was impressed with the courageous way she handled various challenges throughout 2020. She nominated Akhi for a special honor – to represent the Girls’ Education Program in an International Day of the Girl Child webinar on the “Future of Our Girl Child in the COVID-19 Context”. The webinar was attended by several important education officials, including the Minister of Education.

“I never imagined that I would be speaking with the Minister of Education! We were celebrating International Day of the Girl Child virtually. I spoke to her about my school and my education – and about how Room to Read was supporting me. Whenever I look back on that day, I feel good about it and confident.” Akhi Girls' Education Program Participant

In the future, Akhi hopes to become a doctor so that she can help her community. For now, she is excited to continue her studies and build the skills and knowledge to make her dreams come true, all with help of Room to Read Girls’ Education Program supported by Red Nose Day.

Together, Room to Read and Red Nose Day have supported 1,189 secondary school girls in our Girls' Education Program and has pledged to support an additional 455 girls this year in Cox’s Bazar. Throughout the COVID-19 school closures, Room to Read has adapted our programs to ensure girls in Cox's Bazar received the support they needed to continue their education including additional individual mentoring sessions with Social Mobilizers, communicating the latest guidance and local restrictions on how to stay safe during the pandemic, hosting community-building virtual events to provide resources with parents during this challenging time and, more broadly, working with the national government to adapt our life skills curriculum into targeted TV episodes in collaboration with the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE).

We are so proud to partner with Comic Relief US and Red Nose Day to support girls in Cox's Bazar. Stay tuned for more updates about our partnership.

> Learn more about our COVID-19 response.