For over half her life, Sudhira has been involved in a child and youth club in her village that ‘the Baptists’—as her mother Pomilla calls them—organised some ten years ago. She’s been able to attend school the same amount of time as her club involvement, an uncommon thing for girls in Bangladesh villages who don’t always have the opportunities for better lives.
But child club has meant Sudhira and her friends have learned regular hygiene lessons that help them better care for themselves around often unsafe or unsanitary situations. Sudhira talks about staying clean at school so she can stay healthy. After all, she needs to stay strong to help her mother Pomilla at home with the garden and fish pond while her father Suresh works in the city as a garment worker. And when younger children in the community don’t know how to do the basics, Sudhira is delighted to teach them.
‘They don’t know what I have learned from the child club. So I give them advice. They thank me and say, we did not know all these. You taught us so thanks to you. They are curious about all these. I tell them what I have learned about coronavirus. I ask them to wear masks and maintain social distance. They become very happy about that. That makes me feel good.’
They don’t know what I have learned from the child club. So I give them advice. They thank me and say, we did not know all these… That makes me feel good.
When she’s not teaching younger children or helping her mother catch fish with big nets in their fishpond, Sudhira is studying and dreaming about going to college. But she also has fears about how coronavirus is ‘spreading as a threat throughout the world’.
It is the first time the young woman has witnessed something like a devastating global virus.
What does she do when she’s afraid?
‘I keep myself clean. I use soap. I wear mask. I tell my mother there is nothing to fear. I have joined child club. My teachers have taught me many things. To prevent this there are helplines and also numbers for violence on women.’
She’s learning her lessons well. She calls English her favourite subject, loves reading English words and reciting poems or singing songs. She cycles to school when her mother allows her and helps her neighbours when she can.
‘They say good things about me. My friends are very happy with me. I have dream to buy a scooty one day. I don’t know how much God will fulfill my dreams. Then I help my mother at her works. There are many things I like. And my favourite bird is a parrot because the beak is red colour and the whole body is green. This bird can talk. That is what I like much.’