Early in the morning, bent over, tying my shoelace, I caught a glimpse of Tirtho’s worn out legs. Tirtho is my best friend. I was heading to school while he would walk to work in the tobacco factory. It’s safer than his previous job- welding in the city for a big construction company. There are many others in my slum who also work in dangerous places like mines and workshops. I am one of the lucky few. He looked tired, but he smiled at me and I smiled back. We talked a while and headed our different ways.
My name is Seeta, by the way. I live in the Lalmati Slum in Bangladesh. I have three brothers and one sister. We live with our mother, in our small Ghara. Ma tells us she was married at 13, and 27 years and 5 children later, our father left her for another woman. From what I remember, he wasn’t nice to any of us. Now, all we have is each other to take care of.
Ma took a chance and sent me and Jamila to school. I learn so many new things there, and get uniforms, books, and crayons in every color. Even in KG, we got textbooks to study from.
As I got to school, we started our day with exercise – as we always do. Rahib sir tells us that this helps keep our body fit and we must do it every day- even on the holidays- to be healthy. After that, we had English class, which is everyone’s favorite part of the day. I like learning English because the whole world speaks this language, and when I see all those places in our textbooks, I can speak with others who know about those places I ask our visitors about their home country, and all their favorite places to see there. I thought to myself that if Ma is free this evening, I will teach her these new words from my ‘Useful Words Book’ too.
Our second class was Health and Hygiene class, which is my favorite part of the day. My teacher told us it is very important to tell others in my family about what to do to not fall ill, because so many people like us fall ill without medicines and doctors to cure us.
After break, we had Math, Health and Art. My fourth class of the day was with Lipi ma’am. “People all over the world want to help make your dreams come true”, she said, “They wish you well and hope you work hard to make your lives better – because you can”. She always inspires us during classes.
We have very generous teachers – even our headmaster. I remember, before I reached 1st Standard, our headmaster, Rakib Babu, said we had so many students at C2C that we needed more teachers- and we got more teachers.
Did I tell you we get new bags, shoes and stationary every year? Today, after Art class, people from the company, who help us get these new things, visited us. We waited for them in our best, ironed uniforms, and they all wore my favorite color: green. They also wore funny- colored shoes that looked like crocodile faces. Although we all laughed about it later, I think my best friend secretly wants those shoes.
After the visit, our teacher told us we can buy anything we want if we study hard, and when we are older, we can earn money by working in a company like they do. After a while, curious during class, we asked our Roslin ma’am how much money she makes for teaching us. She told us she doesn’t ask for money because she enjoys helping us learn about the world. She said that Sunil babu and Ms.Eva inspire her, and teaching us makes her very happy. Working for no money? It made me wonder..
When I got back home, I yearn to take my mother to school with me. If she had the knowledge I’m getting, maybe she could work in a better place so she doesn’t have to strain her eyes for 16 hours a day.
C2C really is a good school. I remember, in 1st Standard, I learnt about different sports, cultures, famous world leaders and even the Royal Bengal Tiger, the national animal of my country Bangladesh. I have never seen a tiger, but from pictures in my textbook, they look so fierce and brave, never afraid of anything. My mother calls me a Bhaga too, but I never tell her than I am afraid. I worry about her, and my best friend too.. But after all the years I’ve spent learning from C2C, I know what I want to do when I grow up.
My teacher asks us every week, on Friday, what our dream is. We aren’t supposed to say it out loud, but instead write it down on a secret page in our notebook. She says never to borrow another’s dream and to make our own.
My dream is to save my slum from poverty. I don’t want any child like me to suffer like my best friend, and work in dangerous places while we enjoy playing galli cricket or kabaddi. He has his dreams too, but instead, he gets 12 takas a week out of the 200 takas he earns for his family. With that he buys a small Milkybar chocolate which he always offers to me first. I tell him that the first chocolate I buy with my money will be just for him- Kona seyarim, sudhu dekhasona (No sharing, just caring).
He and I will help everyone in our slum, just like C2C does. None of my friends would ever be poor or hurt or helpless again.
A C2C Student
Choice to Change, a transparent NPO organization started by Eva Kernova and Sunil Baroi, has established schools in the slums of Dhaka that provide education to children who otherwise have no access to it. B-change has partnered up with C2C for this very cause. Your donations can really help change a child’s life – not in an abstract sense- but really change it; help them get an education, a job and enough income to live with contentment. So whatever device you’re reading this on [we were born lucky], click the following link to donate to C2C: http://www.justgiving.com/thechoicetochange
To donate offline, please contact us through
or visit the C2C website: http://thechoicetochange.org/
[This article is drafted after research of the organization and narrates in the voice of a fictional student. All facts in the article are true.]