Prosanto, hope for his community

Holding a stack of hardcover books in one hand, Prosanto rushes past the golden paddy fields where his parents work. He’s on his way to a different future, one not in the fields.

In this ethnic minority community, in remote northern Bangladesh, many depend on traditional rice farming and customary practices. Home-brewed alcohol plays a huge cultural role – served whenever a visitor arrives. It also serves as a cruel legacy– creating family strife and community disharmony.

Alcoholism has sunk many families deeper into poverty. When breadwinners are drunk, they have often been cheated into making deals what dispossesses them of their land. As such, they’re forced to become agricultural day labourers who live from hand to mouth.

Very often I went to school without having any food. I was hungry and could not concentrate in the classes.

That lack of money, and a general misunderstanding about the value of education, has also forced many to drop out of school early. It’s rare to find someone who has gone beyond the 8th Grade here.

But 16-year-old Prosanto is an exception. He holds a dream. He wants to be a teacher. At 16, he’s now in Grade 10. But it’s been a battle to get here.

For most of his life, Prosanto was afraid. His ethnicity and his family’s poverty kept him from interacting with his classmates and even other villagers. He was shy to present in front of class. He did not participate in any cultural activity and avoided sports.

“Very often I went to school without having any food. I was hungry and could not concentrate in the classes,” he says.

For his parents, the cost of Prosanto’s education was difficult to bear. But the boy never stepped back from the pursuit of his dream. He says, “Many days I had to work as a day labourer in the field out of the school period.”

Prosanto was motivated by World Vision through a student’s gathering organized by the Panchbibi programme area. He participated in a training of trainers on life skill based education. After successfully completing the training course, he started to work as life skill based education peer educator, where he earns 1,000 taka (about USD $13) a month, enough to supplement the work he used to do in the fields and ensure he stays in school.

During the training sessions that he does with other youth in his area, he was surprised to find the changes in his own life within one month.

He says, “I found I was speaking openly with all, without any hesitation and with confidence.”

Now his class teachers are encouraging him as well and appreciating him for being more attentive in the classroom.

Prosanto is creating awareness on child rights among the children of his community by conducting different sessions.

“Prosanto is a good boy. He is doing better than before. I am hopeful that he will perform better in the future,” says his teacher MD. Moklesure Rahman.

He is also participating in different cultural and sports program without any fear and obstacles. He says, "Life Skill Based Education has changed my life. Now I am able to adjust anywhere and to any situation."

“Life Skill Based Education has changed my life, now I am able to adjust anywhere and to any situation.”

He is also supporting his younger sister, a sponsored child in World Vision programme, to continue her education.

Now Prosanto is advocating on child rights and protection to 25 youth in his village. During his free time he is helping of his parents.       

“Previously my parents were not thinking about me. Now, they are thinking and they support me for my development,” he says.

Story composition by: Lipy Mary Rodrigues. Reporting and photos by: Binaton Tudu, Panchibbi area