Every girl deserves a fair chance. An education. A future.

Kumari Joyonti Mohonto and her mother

Our Graduation approach has proven that it’s possible to bring about an end to the worst forms of human poverty. For 24 months, participants receive productive assets through grants or interest-free loans, training on life skills and financial management.

75,658 households have graduated out of ultra poverty in Bangladesh in 2017, guiding the way for the 20 million people who still survive on less than USD 0.70 a day.

Poverty has been identified as the second most common reason for children leaving schools in Bangladesh. One of our graduation criteria is that the children of the household attend school. The real achievement here is the change in mindset, which has been catalysed in families like Joyonti’s, who have made education their absolute top priority.

My father fractured his left arm a few years back which left him unemployed for months. He got a few jobs but they only lasted a day or two. My mother took up part-time maid jobs, and when there was nothing else she made ‘madur’ (mats) with her sister-in-law. She was always busy during the day, but I heard her cry many nights — especially those ones where we had not been able to eat much, or when rain came through the roof.

Both my parents always made sure that my brother Sumon and I received proper education. They never compromised over school.

Sumon drove a rickshaw van since he was in the eighth grade. He supported himself and gave my mother whatever remained. He worked this way until he was done with his HSC. Now he is living in Dhaka, studying in college while teaching part time.

We never owned any land or home. We always lived with others. I was never asked to contribute, but I always did household chores and took care of the cattle.

My mother joining the ultra poor programme was a kickstart in many ways. We bought cows, and a large amount of our income now comes from selling the milk.

We bought a piece of land and, one year ago, started building the house we now live in — our first house.

Joyonti in school

I want to be a teacher when I grow up. I haven’t decided what I am going to teach but this is something that I am sure of.

I will be a provider for my family. Our childhood was undeniably difficult, and it was always held together by my mother. This is a major issue in rural areas where women working is not accepted, but I watched my mother handle every backlash — and now we have a house. My every footstep was, and shall always be, paved by the ones left by her. I will have a career that will make her proud.”