“If I have the power to do something, I will make a school for destitute girls and I will try to empower them.”      

My name is Farzana and I live in Geneva Camp in Dhaka. As a family, we have faced several financial challenges- It was hard enough for my father to support our family, let alone pay for my education. My father worked as a day laborer and we struggled through a hand-to-mouth existence. After working hard all day, he could only earn about 300 taka ($3).

I cannot forget the time when I had to register for my Secondary School Certificate exam (a public exam taken at the end of 10th grade to progress to the next grade level) and had to pay 5,800 Taka for the registration fee. It was a big amount and we were not able to pay the fees. It was a rude-awakening and I was distraught and terribly disappointed. I kept wondering if I would have to stop studying. Would my hard work of ten years be a waste?  I had only a few days to pay the dues and had no idea what to do.

Around that time, I heard that OBAT is providing scholarships for education- I applied for one and got selected. OBAT saved my hard work of ten years.  If I did not get the support I needed at that time, I couldn’t have taken the SSC exam- my academic journey would have come to an end.

On that day, I was the happiest person on earth. I got the strength to fight. Girls are considered to be weak in our culture but I wanted to stand on my own feet. I wanted to prove that if girls get an education they can also do everything that boys do.  With the help of the scholarship, I continued onward and completed my secondary and then higher secondary education and later finished my BBA degree from Northern University of Bangladesh.

Other than being a scholarship student, I have also volunteered for OBAT’s THINK TANK (a group consisting of camp youth who undertake initiatives to empower their community members). I love to help others- I can feel their pain as I also experienced similar conditions. Many children in the camp community who are enrolled in OBAT’s schools cannot afford a private tutor to help them with their studies. Their parents cannot help them either as they are illiterate. OBAT’s THINK TANK team started a free tutoring center for those kids and I taught the students attending the center. OBAT has inspired me to help others.

Currently, I am working for a nonprofit organization in Bangladesh. OBAT empowered me and enabled me to get here. I also got leadership training from OBAT and because of that, I am able to talk in front of people.

As a camp resident, I do face other issues and within these issues, I also find opportunity as they are a part of our daily lives. We have to use public toilets as camp homes are too small to have the space for toilets. We have to spend a lot of time standing in a queue to use the toilets as they too few for the number of people using them. We also faced many problems trying to access clean water. However, things are a lot better now as OBAT has constructed two water points to provide us with clean water.

OBAT is not just a four-lettered word for me- it has played a great role in my life. Words cannot describe adequately what OBAT did for me. It cleared a way for my future and gave me hope to make my dream come true. I am grateful to OBAT Helpers for supporting me.