"My family is marginalized. We live off the land and my parents couldn't afford to send me to school", said Meoi Ching Marma.
Meoi Ching Marma is 15, she lives in the remote Bandarban Hill District in Bangladesh.
The community is very poor and male dominated. Most girls are forced into marriage and work at a very early age. For Meoi school was never an option: her future would be agricultural work and to help her family survive.
But thanks to an education project run by Save the Children's Education for Youth Empowerment Program, funded by the IKEA Foundation, Meoi now has the chance to fulfill her dream of designing clothes. One day she hopes to achieve her ambition of becoming a top fashion designer. Her once discouraging future outlook looks much more promising now. She is excited and hopeful for the coming years.
The Education for Youth Empowerment Program works with local partners with information and teaching centers in the Hill Tracts region villages. The project's aim is to support minority children, assist the schools in teaching in local languages and engage the communities in educating the children.
When Meoi Ching visited the center in her village, she had heard about the art and fashion course. During the six months long course she learnt to sew, cut and print on fabric. It was demanding and she had to work extra in order to pay for the transport to and from classes.But she loved the program and tells that Save the Children and IKEA Foundation have given her and other girls in her caste and age group a chance to explore their creative potential and financially support their families.
Meoi Ching has now her own business providing sewing services to local customers. She dreams of expanding her business and creating opportunities for other girls. Her community is now extremely proud of her.People started to treat her with respect and dignity when they saw her beautiful designs. People actually started order clothes from her and she enjoys creating things for them.
"The course allowed me to focus on my love of designing. It also helped me to support my family financially. I have demonstrated that girls are not a burden but a blessing for their parents", said Meoi Ching.