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 Schools Child labour Sumy Mumtaz Anwar Al Amin Teachers Sara Cameron McBean Bangladesh Bangladesh   Brazil   Colombia   India   Iraq   Kenya   Nepal   Papua New Guinea   Senegal   Sudan   Tanzania

Originally produced for UNICEF

There are five in my family. We live in one room and have a large bed where we all sleep, a television set and two sewing machines. At first we only had one sewing machine for my mother but two years ago they bought another machine for me and my mother taught me how to use it. At first I was very excited about working the machine but then it got boring because I work at it a lot.

I go to the Hard to Reach centre first thing in the morning then I go home and start stitching. I have a break for lunch, then I bathe and play with my brother and stitch again until the evening. “

Her father explains, “We came from Mymensingh ten years ago because there was such hardship in the village. I learned how to make the caps and Momtaz’s mother went to work in the garment factory. She got paid 500Tk a month at first as a helper but then earned 1400Tk as a machine operator. She stayed there until we started having a family but then she stayed home with the children and I took a loan to buy a machine so that she could make caps. I buy the materials and take the caps to sell. I don’t know what the profit is, I don’t know how to figure things. I cannot read or write. Momtaz’s mother knows how to write her name.”

Her mother says, “I used to know when I worked at the garment factory because I had to sign all the time but now I have got out of the habit and I think I’ve forgotten.”

Her father continues, “We have to make a lot of caps to make ends meet.” (We did the math with him and worked out that the family makes only Tk 1 per cap.)

“We talked before about sending Momtaz to school but the government school is too expensive. When we found out about the Hard to Reach centre, Momtaz’s mother went to speak to the teacher and got her admitted. A lot of positive things have come out of it. She shares the things she has learned with us. If there’s anything I can’t read or can’t understand I ask Momtaz, she usually knows the answer. She talks very well. I’ve seen the way other kids are and how they talk to the elders. Momtaz is different since she went to the school. She uses good language. She treats people with more respect.”

Momtaz says, “Before I sometimes felt bad when I was with friends who could read but now I can read as well, even quite difficult words. There is no end to what we can learn. I would like to speak English. I see other children doing it and I know I could do it too if I get the chance.”

Mumtaz, 10 years, seamstress