“I was deeply shocked after hearing my marriage news from my neighbour. I couldn’t believe this was true. I was weeping and silently praying,” says 11-year-old Ferdaushi Ara, who lives in Bangladesh.
Ferdaushi’s prayers were those of a child desperate to stay out of marriage and get an education. But poverty made that an unlikely reality.
While her parents and six brothers were away at work during the day, Ferdaushi would stay home in their single room house to take care of her three-year-old sister.
One of the best ways that Canadians can help keep children like Ferdaushi in school and away from exploitation is through child sponsorship.
Worldwide, there are 85 million children—just like Ferdaushi—who are involved in some form of child labour. Thirty-five per cent of them are working in services that include domestic work or caretaking. With each day spent toiling and not learning, these children are missing out on their potential for a brighter future.
Hope for a New Life
The horizon’s brightened a little for this young girl when World Vision started an education centre right in the community where she lived. At the Hope For New Life Centre children who couldn’t afford to attend school still had the opportunity to learn.
Ferdaushi was delighted to finally be getting the education she always dreamed of. So she was shocked and devastated when she learned that her parents were arranging her marriage.
Ferdaushi’s parents were afraid that their daughter’s new education would drive the cost of her dowry up higher than they could afford to pay. They had found the 11-year-old a husband ten years her senior.
Bravely, Ferdaushi went to the education centre’s management committee to tell them she was at risk of becoming a child bride. The committee went all the way to the local commissioner after Ferdaushi’s parents refused to call off the marriage. And through education and discussion, they were able to change this child’s future.
"I will educate my child."
Everyone, including Ferdaushi’s parents, has a different outlook now: “I found out my fault, and I didn’t know early marriage was a fault. Now, I promise that I will educate my child,” says Ferdaushi’s mother.
“I can’t describe my feelings,” says Ferdaushi with a laugh. “But God replied to my prayers and I am now free. I will be a teacher in future,” she says with confidence.