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Aparijita, she who cannot be defeated

Aparijita entering the Green Village Bangladesh

We all know the mythological story of the Phoenix bird who rises from its own ashes. Here is another Phoenix's story from the Green Village Bangladesh. In her 23 years span of life, Aparijita Sharmin (renamed for privacy purpose) challenged poverty, eve-teasing, social trial, child marriage, early motherhood and domestic violences. Through her own words and her Green Village Leader’s eyes, let’s dive into several phases of her journey.

Aparijita Sharmin: the incredible journey of an empowered Youth

I am Aparijita Sharmin, born in a lower middle class family in Bangladesh. I joined the Green Village (GV) on the 9th of July 2023. 

Before coming to this place, the situation of my life was beyond explanation. At the age of 16 years old, I was teased by one person that wanted to marry me. Whenever I was going to school, he was threatening me, telling me that he would kidnap me if I didn't want to accept the marriage. This day finally happened. He locked me in a room for 3 days. In Bangladesh's perspective, this is a humiliating and shameful action. Because of the social pressure that the community was putting on them, my parents decided to get me married off with this guy. If not for him, they would have struggled to marry me to another man, as I spent nights out of my house and nobody could know what happened during this time.

I had to stop my studies. My parents cut the relationship with me as I ruined their societal reputation. I became a housewife, a prisoner of my own house, avoiding going out not to face people bad mouthing about me. The situation became even worse when my parents heard that I was not the only wife of my husband. They decided that divorcing was the better option even though I had a one year old baby. As you can imagine, being divorced with a child is not an aspiring situation for a Bangladeshi woman. After 2 years of this life, I started to feel that dying would be the best option for me, I had lost all the lights of my life. 

Thanks to a local NGO, I wound up in the GV. I really liked that place. At first, I was scared when I heard that I would need to communicate with everyone in English, as I do not know English much. I was wondering how I would learn the lessons here. However, with the support of the Coaches I started to understand what they were saying and I am still learning English. Later, I realized that my thirst for learning has been increasing day by day. During my Micro-Company weeks and Job Search weeks I have learned how to update report books, prepare documents like Newsletter, operating email, video conferencing, etc. I am very proud that I have made my own resume.

After successfully ending my 3 months professional training, I now have the courage to speak in front of an audience. I am good at computer typing. I even finished my job search with a job offer and worked as a Lab Assistant in a private diagnostic center for the last 2 months. There I discovered how to collect samples, prepare patient reports etc. 

Aparijita working on her reports

Before coming to the GV I didn't know many related things that are supporting me in this Lab Attendant job position. I was a nervous, scared, less confident young woman. Day by day I have tried to adapt with the energetic environment of the GV as well as learning my Micro-Company responsibilities. My position was Production and Safety Officer at Micro Company Restaurant. I did not know anything about the job responsibilities and how to fulfill them. Catalysts again assisted me a lot. First, they showed me how to work and then they let me do it by myself. The dedication and efforts Catalysts showed to me to teach different things made me empowered. Those learnings encouraged me and will always be with me in future. Thanks to the way they boosted my confidence, I will never step back from any difficulties

Tonight, I will take the bus to Dhaka, heading to the Bangladeshi capital city for the first time of my life, located 12 hours away from my village. I will work there as a call center assistant and will live with a friend I met in the GV. I am very excited and very proud that my salary has quadrupled since my first job.

In Bangladesh there are many women who are widowed, divorced, victims of domestic violences and living a very miserable life. LP4Y is also targeting these marginalized vulnerable Youth and giving them new hope without even charging any money. For this, I am glad to be a part of this.

I believe I will fly high and will succeed in my life as I have LP4Y beside me.

Marie Metro-Savelli: witness of Aparijita's motivation and resilience

As a Green Village Leader, I get the chance to spend time with the Youth and to see them evolving even though I am not with them all day long. To me, Aparijita is a great example of how LP4Y's pedagogy plays a decisive role in women empowerment.

At the end of her first week in the Green Village, Aparijita became Production and Safety Officer for the Restaurant Micro Company. One of her missions was to write a weekly report identifying what are the situations that are not adequate with the GV Safety, analyze them and suggest solutions for them not to occur again. Once she understood her responsibilities and their importance, her mindset really changed!  She put so much effort into writing her report: taking pictures, using Google Slides to organize it, sending it via email. Computer, softwares, being solution-oriented… all this was new for her. Nevertheless, she was a fast learner. She would always make sure that I was reading her report and giving her feedback so she could improve for next time. 

When she entered Job Search, she had to hand over her position to another Youth that just joined the GV. Handovering her duties was not as easy as expected. After a few days she came to see me, to confess that the new Safety Officer was not properly doing her job. Of course, I reassured her regarding the fact that the new Youth needed little time to adjust and would do a great job after a few days. But, I was amazed by how important her old responsibilities became to her and how seriously she was taking it. Being a mother, I knew she was a responsible person when she joined, but being trusted (maybe for the first time) to ensure professional duties was a totally different thing.

This motivation to learn, to ensure duties, did not quit her. She managed to convince a Diagnostic Center to give her the chance of having a first job. They saw her willingness to give her best, her flexibility and her honesty. Her manager is amazed by how fast she is learning, and praises her for her communication skills. To be honest, I was a little surprised by the second point. The least one can say is that when she started her training, this was not her best quality. But, I guess she understood the importance of compassionate communication and active listening; skills she had to develop when explaining to her team how to better respect the safety rules.

On her last day, a little worried, I reminded her “Aparijita, keep in mind that if people at work annoy you, you need to step back, breath deeply and express yourself calmly, this will help you for sure”. I was worried she would be slightly offended (what I would have probably felt) but on the contrary she hugged me. After 3 months in GV, she perfectly understood that Catalysts were trying to accompany her in what they considered to be the most benevolent way. She henceforth had the smartness to apply those guidance to her new life.

I will always keep in mind the day she came back to GV with her first appointment letter. Her appearance literally changed, from sad and angry eyes to a huge smile and lightened face. She was honestly almost not recognizable! Thank you Aparijita for being a beautiful example of resilience and for sharing with us 25 pages of your testimony that I am sure will inspire other women (and gave white hair to Medha).

Aparijita (renamed in order to respect her privacy), Medha and Marie

Green Village Bangladesh, December 2024



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