Akhi: Wise Beyond Her Years

Twelve-year-old Akhi is a student at one of Friendship’s secondary schools. She is one of five children in a family living in the chars of Bangladesh.  Since her mother stays at home to take care of the house and children, the burden of earning household income falls solely on her father.  But even working as a daily laborer, Mr. Hossain cannot earn enough to keep his family from struggling in poverty.

In telling her story, Akhi was embarrassed to admit some of the challenges she and her family faced. “I could not go to school for a few days, because I had one torn shirt that could not be sewn,” she said.  Although Akhi is a student, she is in constant fear that she will have to get married early, as her older sister did.  Early marriage is often a solution families in poverty are forced to take as the strain of supporting large families becomes difficult to bear. In addition, as their daughters grow older, it becomes harder for families to protect them from sexual assault. 

But Akhi is resilient, and her dream of continuing her education is what keeps her strong.   She is now in Class VI in Friendship Secondary School, and despite her hardships, made it to her Primary Education Completion Exam.  She passed with a GPA of 5, which is the highest possible grade. Because of the opportunity to study in Friendship’s school and her success as a student, Akhi is determined now more than ever to continue her education.  Friendship’s education team maintains regular contact with Akhi’s parents and encourages them to support her continued study.  Education provides families with a safe place to send their girls and gives their daughters a chance for a career after graduation, thereby delaying marriage. The prolonged opportunity for Akhi to receive education helps quell her fears of marrying early and increases her chances for an improved standard of living.