Their lives are set against a dreary canvas, but the girls of Duaripara nurture vibrantly colorful dreams. It is these dreams for their lives and their growing self-confidence that have shown the way forward…

The Duaripara project was initiated by Oasis Bangladesh in 2004 in order to improve the quality of life of girls and their families within the Duaripara slum community. The girls are especially at risk of commercial and sexual exploitation. In 2012 Oasis Bangladesh started another journey, focusing on decreased vulnerability of women and children to commercial and sexual exploitation.

Tahomina was 8 years old when she joined Oasis’ Duaripara project in 2008.  Her parents moved from the village to Dhaka in search of a better life. They had no land, and therefore had little opportunity to earn money. Now living in the Duaripara slum community, her father works as a bus driver and her mother works in the garments factory, but life in the slums is tough – housing and sanitation is poor and earning enough money to support a family is challenging.

The Duaripara Family Development Project was set up to support and empower vulnerable families, with a particular focus on helping girls to access education – an opportunity that many girls in Bangladesh are denied. Tahomina’s first experience was through the ‘Catch-Up’ education program for girls who had missed out on significant periods of schooling. In her early days in the program, she had some learning and behavioral difficulties. The teachers started to keep a close eye on her, took special care of her and showed her love. They spent extra time with her and engaged her in the Children’s Committee to help her develop responsibility. Her behavior began to change and she started doing well in her new environment. The other girls elected Tahomina to be a member of the Children’s Committee where she became a very active and conscientious committee member. Socially she has also changed - she is now confident and sociable with a community of her own.

One of the important things the Duaripara Project does is to encourage parents to support their daughters’ education by paying their school fees, which for many is a big step when there are many demands on the little money available. Tahomina’s parents are now faithfully paying school fees and very supportive of her continued schooling. Tahomina, now 12 years old, is very grateful to Oasis and hopes that other girls will get the opportunity to study and fulfill their dreams like she has.

If you are interested in helping Oasis Bangladesh please go to http://www.oasisusa.org/donate