Rana Plaza Tragedy!!

What to describe and what to write? All I could see were dead bodies all around me. A silent anger, unbearable pain and helplessness froze my finger to click. Besides dead bodies and each drop of their blood asked me to tape their catastrophic death memoir to show the people around the world how painfully they left the world. Those memories have been haunting me for a long time.

I witnessed the tragedy of the Rana Plaza collapse 10 years ago today, surrounded by dead bodies and blood. 

Drinking tears now is a daily menu to the people whose life collapsed with the building Rana Plaza.

I don’t know how many times we will remain mute and hollow out graves! I don’t understand why the world’s most innocent souls have to always be trapped as vulnerable victims! Their souls will never rest in peace until we know how dreadfully they died without even being able to tell their last wishes.

On that stormy day when I arrived at the hospital door, I was repulsed by the sorrow I encountered. No, rain was not the reason; it was the pain in every face which no words can describe. 

Looking at a hundred wounded bodies and amidst the cries of the hundreds of wounded, I felt an urgent need to share their stories with the world, to shed light on their unbearable suffering…

Today, as we mark the tenth anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, let us remember those who lost their lives and those whose lives were forever changed. May their memory serve as a reminder of the need for justice, for greater protections for the most vulnerable among us, and for a world where such tragedies never happen again.

Remembering Rana Plaza Tragedy…

(The 2013 Dhaka garment factory collapse (also referred to as the 2013 Savar building collapse or the Rana Plaza collapse) was a structural failure that occurred on 24 April 2013 in the Savar Upazila of Dhaka District, Bangladesh, where an eight-story commercial building called Rana Plaza collapsed. The search for the dead ended on 13 May 2013 with a death toll of 1,134. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building alive. It is considered the deadliest structural failure accident in modern human history and the deadliest garment-factory disaster in history.)

Breaking the silence!

This month I have started gifting ‘Hygiene Bags’ among unprivileged teenage girls who are really in need but who can’t afford it. 

We have distributed 200 hygiene bags to 200 girls just in the last 2 weeks. I have been doing this action for some time now and these 200 girls will receive this ‘Hygiene Bag’ every year until they have completed their education and they have started earning enough for themselves to afford buying their own hygiene products. I do this so that these 200 girls will find some relief during their monthly hardships and be able to concentrate on their studies and move towards a healthy future. 

A ‘Hygiene Bag’ is not just a gift bag, it represents happiness for a sister. It facilitates the journey towards a healthy future for a girl but mostly, it gives relief from the physical and mental suffering at that time of the month.

Every bag consists of 15 packets of sanitary pads for one year, 6 inner garments, two towels, 24 bars of soap for washing and bathing as well as an informative letter from me.


Almost 80% of the women in Bangladesh do not use sanitary napkins mainly due to their high cost or simply due to their lack of awareness which leaves them susceptible to a myriad of health problems.

I personally visited and talked to the girls. Most of them mentioned that they cannot afford these products or their families simply don’t buy them for their girls. In many cases, they cannot even tell the family of their need because they are already in severe poverty.

Many thanks to my volunteer friends who were in the field these last two weeks beside me. They helped with the buying and transporting of the products to different parts of Bangladesh as well as distributing and giving counsel to the girls. 

Please keep me in your prayers so I can always do my small part to serve the people in need till my last days. 

You can also be a part of making some of them smile; you can also tell them they are loved; you can also give them some hope for a day or for a lifetime. If you want to contribute, please email me at akashphoto@gmail.com

Love and Light!

GMB Akash

Photojournalist and Profile Photographer at Panos Pictures, London

Founder of GMB Akash Institute of Photography, Dhaka

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Photography Workshop: http://www.gmbakashworkshop.com/

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Dreams of child laborers

Every time I am working with children on different projects, I like to collect their stories and I always ask them to tell me their dreams. Here, I am sharing with you 10 common dreams that these working children keep inside their hearts! These dreams can give us insights into the souls of these little angels.

Child labour in Bangladesh is sadly very common with 4.8 million child labourers or 12.6% of all children aged 5 to 14 finding themselves in the work force in order to survive or to help their family survive.

I have been working on this issue for the last 15 or more years to create awareness and to bring about positive changes in our society.During these last years, I have taken a lot of steps in an effort to contribute to the education of some of these impoverished working children.

A few years ago, I set up a school for unprivileged children outside of Dhaka where around 160 children from rural villages receive nearly free education. Most of their parents are illiterate and these children will be the first generation to be able to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

I have also given scholarships to hundreds of students who, otherwise would not be able to continue their education and might end up working in factories and in hard labour jobs.

Recently I have been trying to admit working children to school. I have been giving small businesses to their parents so they can earn enough money for the family and send their children to school instead of a factory. So far, I have admitted 22 children to school and have taken full responsibility for their education including all expenses. I will see that these activities will be continued for these children and hopefully more children, until my last breath.

These efforts have, of course, been effected by the COVID-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shock that is having a catastrophic impact, in particular, on poor people’s lives and livelihoods.

Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer. This crisis can push millions more vulnerable children into child labour.

fader (13)

When I grow up, I want to be the owner of a factory and I will name my factory after my mother. _ Razu

BC (44)

I want to send my younger sister to school; she loves to study and to go to school. _Sojib

born to work (180)

I want to build a factory where there will be more light, drinking water, fans and more space for working._ Munna

GMB Akash (9)

We will rent a big house in our slum so my parents and my younger sister can sleep comfortably at night. Now, in one room four of us cannot sleep. It is too warm and crowded!- Sobuj

GMB Akash (18)

My mother works as a maid and my father pulls a rickshaw. I want to grow up fast so I can earn more money every day. Then my parents won’t need to work._ Parvin

GMB Akash (17)

I wish I could work in a textile factory. They have a better environment with a fan, toilet and clean building._Shilu

GMB Akash (3)

I dream I will have my own factory where nobody will beat any children nor say bad words to them. _Jewel

GMB Akash (12)

I studied until class 3 and then we came to the city for work. I miss my school and our village. I Hope I can return to our village and study in our village school._Midul

GMB Akash (16)

I want to buy everything that my mother likes. Like new sarees for her, good shoes for her, anything she loves._ Koli

GMB Akash (5)


GMB Akash 

Photojournalist and Profile Photographer at Panos Pictures, London

Founder of GMB Akash Institute of Photography, Dhaka



Website: www.gmb-akash.com

Photo Agency: www.panos.co.uk

Photography Workshop: www.gmbakashworkshop.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/gmbakash

Instagram: www.instagram.com/gmbakash

Blog: www.gmbakash.wordpress.com


Tribute to Refugees around the world.

I have spent years documenting refugees and their children. In recent years I have been interviewing and photographing the tragedies of the families escaping for their lives to Greece from the Middle East as well as the desperate Rohingya and Bihari refugees escaping to Bangladesh from border countries.

To closely experience their lives as well as to help and speak with the families. I spent nights awake in Lesbos Greece waiting for dilapidated and overloaded boats to arrive from Turkey. Sometimes the boats never made it. I walked hundreds of kilometers along with the refugees while they were trying to cross the border out of Greece. In between, I was in their camps, shelters and anywhere they were, trying to discover their pain, suffering, and anguish that refugees must face.

My experiences were eye-opening, tragic, sad, terrifying, and oftentimes shocking.

You can do your part by SHARING THIS post about millions of refugees who need support.



Plight of Rohingya Refugees

More than 24,000 Rohingya were killed by the Myanmar military and local Buddhists. It also estimated that at least 18,000 Rohingya Muslim women and girls were raped, 36,000 Rohingya were thrown into fire.











The Refugee Crisis in Greece

As of December 7, 2015, more than 911,000 refugees and migrants had arrived on European shores since the year began and some 3,550 lives had been lost during the journey. Over 75 per cent of those arriving in Europe had fled conflict and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq.

The civil war in Syria has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises of our lifetime.















The neglected ‘Bihari’ community in Bangladesh

While the international community is focused on the plight of Rohingya refugees, not many in the world are aware of the ordeal of Bihari Muslims who migrated from India in 1947.

This is not just a story of poverty and despair. This is the story of a community of over one hundred sixty thousand stateless Biharis who have lived like animals for the last 40 years.

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pakistany camp-14

Geneva (6)

Geneva (3)

Geneva (1)

Geneva (16)

Geneva (21)

Geneva (20)

Geneva (25)

Geneva (24)

Geneva (13)

Geneva (15)

Continue reading “Tribute to Refugees around the world.”

World Day Against Child Labour

There are an estimated 152 million children in child labour, 72 million of which are in hazardous work.

Child labour in Bangladesh is common, with 4.8 million or 12.6% of children aged 5 to 14 in the work force.

No one has the time to listen to these unfortunate children who are mostly unseen humans beings. I always wanted to deliver their voices to all of you and show you their hidden pain and anguish. I tell their stories, depict their emotions, and steal their sorrows into my frames…

On the occasion of #WorldDayAgainstChildLabour let us Pledge to Secure the Future of our Children.

Let them Learn, Not Earn.

GMB Akash (7)

GMB Akash (19)

GMB Akash (4)

At the age where they should play and study, they are earning to fill their Stomachs!

No one deserves this childhood!

GMB Akash (48)

GMB Akash (2)

GMB Akash (50)

The COVID-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shock are having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer. The crisis can push millions of vulnerable children into child labour.

GMB Akash (12)

GMB Akash (13)

GMB Akash (52)

GMB Akash (3)

GMB Akash (47)

Can you exchange a day with your own child in the place of these children? Can you deposit your children’s labor in such a place for a day in return for $1. If you can’t, can you please do something for these children? “Wishing to help” is an excuse. Shame is a mild word to what we are overlooking. May our spirits wake up?

GMB Akash (45)

GMB Akash (29)

GMB Akash (32)

GMB Akash (35)


GMB Akash 

Photojournalist and Profile Photographer at Panos Pictures, London

Founder of GMB Akash Institute of Photography, Dhaka



Website: www.gmb-akash.com

Photo Agency: www.panos.co.uk

Photography Workshop: www.gmbakashworkshop.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/gmbakash

Instagram: www.instagram.com/gmbakash

Blog: www.gmbakash.wordpress.com









‘A Father, A Hero’

Whether you fall or fail, whether you cry or sob, all you can look forward to is that your father believes in you. He picks you up, brushes you off, and lets you try again. Your father will always be your hero.

Sharing ten real life stories of ‘Father’

Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash


Yesterday, I was able to buy a new dress for my daughter after two years. While I handed sixty pieces of five taka note to the seller, he yelled at me by asking if I am a beggar. My daughter held my hand and cried to leave the shop by saying that she did not want to buy any dress. I wept off her tears with one hand. Yes, I am a beggar. Ten years ago I had never thought in my nightmares that I have to live by begging from people. The night coach fell from the bridge and unbelievably I was alive. I was alive by becoming a disable. My youngest son often ask me where had I left my other hand.  And my daughter Sumaiya feed me every day by saying she knows how difficult it is to do all work with one hand.

After two years my daughter is wearing a new dress, that’s why today I brought her with me to play for some time. May be I will not be able to earn anything today, but I wanted to roam around with my little girl. I secretly borrowed this mobile phone from my neighbor without informing my wife. My daughter has no picture and I want to make this day memorable for her. When one day I will have a phone I will take a lot of pictures of my children. I want to keep good memories. It’s very difficult to send my children to school, but I am educating them all. Sometimes they cannot attend exam because giving exam fees is not always possible by me. On those days they feel very sad then I tell them, sometimes we can miss exams because the biggest exam is life which we are giving every day.

Now I will go for begging. I will place my daughter in a signal where she will wait for me. I will look at her from distant while begging.  I feel shame while she looks at me when I lend my one hand to others. But she never leaves me alone. Because there are big cars, she thinks accident can happen again, these cars could run on me and I would die. Whenever I managed to get some money I return to home by holding my daughter’s hand. We do bazaar on our way and my daughter always carry that bag. During rain we love to get wet and talk about our dreams. In someday I do not get any money, on those days we return to home silently. On those days I feel like to die but at night when my children fall in sleep by holding me I feel being alive is not a bad thing. Only bad is when my daughter waits for me in the signal by keeping her head down. When I cannot look at her eye while begging. But today is different. Because today my daughter is very happy. Today this father is not a beggar. Today this father is a king and here is his princess.

– MD. Kawsar Hossain


I never told my children what my job was. I never wanted them to feel ashamed because of me. When my youngest daughter asked me what I did, I used to tell her hesitantly that I was a labourer. Before I went back home every day, I used to take bath in public toilets so they did not get any hint of the work I was doing. I wanted to send my daughters to school, to educate them. I wanted them to stand in front of people with dignity. I never wanted anyone to look down upon them like how everyone did to me. People always humiliated me. I invested every penny of my earnings for my daughters’ education. I never bought a new shirt, instead used the money for buying books for them. Respect, which is all I wanted them to earn for me. I was a cleaner. The day before the last date of my daughter’s college admission, I could not manage to get her admission fees. I could not work that day. I was sitting beside the rubbish, trying hard to hide my tears. All my coworkers were looking at me but no one came to speak to me. I had failed and felt heartbroken. I had no idea how to face my daughter who would ask me about the admission fees once I got back home. I am born poor. I believed nothing good can happen to a poor person. After work all the cleaners came to me, sat beside and asked if I considered them as brothers. Before I could answer, they handed me their one day’s income. When I tried to refuse everyone; they confronted by saying, ‘We will starve today if needed but our daughter has to go to college.’ I couldn’t reply them. That day I did not take a shower, I went back to my house like a cleaner. My daughter is going to finish her University very soon. Three of them do not let me go to work anymore. She has a part time job and three of them do tuition. But often she takes me to my working place. Feed all my coworkers along with me. They laugh and ask her why she feeds them so often. My daughter told them, ‘All of you starved for me that day so I can become what I am today, pray for me that I can feed you all, every day.’ Now a days I don’t feel like I am a poor man. Whoever has such children, how can he be poor!  – Idris


We always wanted a daughter. But we have three sons. I often told my wife only fortunate have daughter. I am working as a rickshaw puller for more than thirty years. Most of my passengers were bad tempered. They always scolded me. One morning a father hired me to take his daughter to the college. He requested me to be careful in the road. He told his daughter to hold the rickshaw tightly. Before we left he told me to go slowly so the girl may not get hurt. On our way after sometime I heard the girl was crying insanely. I tried to look back and wanted to ask her if everything was okay. She scolded me and warned me not to look back. After a while she asked me to stop and started calling someone by her phone. She was screaming and crying all the time. I understood she supposed to escape from home with a boy. He did not show up. Suddenly she jumped from the rickshaw, left the money in the seat and quickly went to the train line. I was about to leave, felt sorry for the father and thought it may be good not to have a daughter.  But I was not able to paddle further; I heard her father was requesting me to be careful. I parked my vehicle and ran for the girl. She was in the rail line, moving like a sick person to harm herself. I went near to her and requested her to go back with me. She yelled at me, called me uneducated stupid, in between she kept crying insanely. I was afraid to leave her in that empty place. I let her cry, as much as she wanted. Almost three hours we were there and rain was about to come. Before the rain starts she got up and asked me to bring the rickshaw. We did not talk about anything. In the rain I paddled quickly. I dropped her near her house. Before I left she stopped me and said, ‘Uncle, you should never come at my place again, never tell anyone you know me.’ I lowered my head and returned to home. That day I did not talk to anyone, I did not eat anything. I told myself it was better not to have a daughter. After more than eight years, very recently I had an accident. I was kind of senseless. Public took me to the hospital;. When I got back my sense I saw the girl was working near me, she asked me how I was feeling, why I never went to meet her.  It was hard for me to recognize the girl in white dress, in spectacle and stethoscope. My treatment went well. I was taken to a big doctor. I was listening to her telling him, ‘Sir, he is my father’. The old doctor told her something in English. Then she touched my injured hand and replied him, ‘If this father did not support me in the past, I won’t be able to become a doctor’. I was lying in a narrow bed and tightly shut my eyes. I cannot tell anyone how I felt. This rickshaw puller has a daughter, a doctor daughter.

– Bablu Shekh (55)


Six years ago my daughter ran away with a boy. Their married life was one month. After one month the boy disappeared. I found my daughter after three months. When I found her, she was living in the same slum room they rented and discovered something is very wrong with my child. She was abnormal and three months pregnant. I decided to stay at the house with her without forcing her to come with me. I slept in the floor and she slept in the bed. Every night she wake up and screamed by asking me to open the door as she felt the boy is knocking at the door. For every single time I opened the door and showed her there was no one.

After one year we returned to village with no mental improvement. She held her new born boy in her chest and never let anyone to take him, as she used to think the child may leave her as well. A year ago I got a marriage proposal for her. My son-in-law was a widow and had four little children. Everyone told me not to share anything about my daughter’s mental condition. I also realized I would never tell it to him including hiding about her son.

But when we were fixing the wedding date I was feeling like a criminal. The moment the groom was leaving I stopped him and took him to the river side. I opened my heart and started to tell what I had to say at our first meeting. He stopped me and said he knew everything. I was surprised and asked him how. He said the day he met my daughter she said everything and he really wanted to marry her. He left and I rushed to my daughter. I asked her what she said, she reluctantly told me, I said – ‘I am Nahar. I have mental problem. I scream at night to open door and ask to check if someone is knocking. Except this I am all okay. I also have a five years old son, whom I will take with me after we get married.’

My daughter is married for a year now, taking care of her five children wonderfully. This cow was their wedding gift which my son-in-law did not take with him. He told me to keep the cow for myself. No, my daughter is still sick. During my last visit when I asked my son-in-law what he do when Nahar screams. He said, ‘Every night I take her outside to show there is no one’. Tears were rolling all over my face when he assured me, Nahar will be okay. I also know my child will be cured. Because love is the best medicine which my daughter is receiving abundantly.

– Ali Noor


I grew up vulnerably, struggled like an animal because I was an orphan. I ate people’s left over and sometimes snatched food from animals. I had no home and no one ever touched my forehead to check my fever. I hated everyone, every face I met. I only survived for myself, and only cared about me because I was no one for anybody. I suffered for the lack of love more than food. And with time those emptiness went deeper and I stopped laughing, dreaming and hoping. Like a donkey I worked as a labouer in people’s field, at night slept with cattle. For everyone I was a labourer. Only our village doctor was different. He often forcefully took me to his home and asked her only daughter to feed me well. It was very irritating for me because I never ate inside a house; never sat in chair and table. No one ever fanned me while serving food. Doctor’s girl continually talked to me about useless things, about things I never knew exist in the world. Most of the time, I nicely asked her to go back to her study but she always giggled and continued her nonsense while feeding me. Whenever I looked at the girl, I felt if I ever had a daughter she would look exactly like her. She never let me to leave the house without having sweets after lunch. She would come far with me by holding an umbrella and always requested me to go again. Most often my eyes got wet for no reason and I ran away without replying her. The day I last saw her, she was lying in her bed, her skin turned pale, hair was short and eyes were puffy. For the first time, I talked to her first, asked her how she was feeling. Like every day she giggled and said, ‘I become rich uncle, I got a rich disease.’ Her father asked her to stop talking and within minutes she started vomiting blood. I escaped the place without saying her any word. At night I secretly met our doctor, handed him my sixty years savings, asked him to take our daughter any place where nothing will be able to take away her smile. It’s been three months they had gone, I heard she is improving. There is still fair chance of her survival. I have been waiting at this river side every day, with a hope of their arrival. I know my daughter will come back. She will again force me to eat more. She will laugh loudly and say, ‘Uncle, do you know you got a cold heart’.

– Rohmot Miah


I was a honey collector. I was never afraid of tiger or crocodile. And I had a beautiful daughter. My daughter could dance like a peacock. She was like a goddess of the forest. Before I could return from work she used to stand in the jungle and every day waited for me. She could win anyone’s heart with her childishness. But after the death of her mother, she could not talk since childhood. Being a poor father I was unable to take her for treatment. I still can remember her smile; with her smiles she could conquer all my sorrows. It was a rainy day of monsoon. I was coming to the home and expecting Pari on my way. But she was not there. After a twenty minutes search I found her. She was hanging from a tree, her clothes were torn apart. My child died before I arrived. I was screaming in anger, I was trying to kill everyone who appeared to console me. My child’s death still haunts me. Nowadays I spend all evening in the jungle as a guard so that no one ever lose any daughter again’ – Kashem


I earn very little from my job. I work in a factory. So, I could not save anything. I have to meet my children’s educational expenses and my old mother’s treatment. That time my elder son finished his college and admitted into the university. Then all the time he was very sad. After many questions his mother hesitantly informed me that he wanted a laptop. I became very angry and shouted by asking, does money grows in tree. But at night I could not sleep. All the time I felt like all other children will do good result because of a laptop and son will roam around in depression. How is it possible till I am alive! Between the time my son returned home at late night, when I asked him why he replied briefly that due to group assignment he had to go in friend’s house. My son did not look into my eyes. It started hurting me lot. I went to my boss and asked him to give me the night job. He exclaimed in doubt how I could manage both day and night shift. I assured him this will be only for four months. I had to walk one hour to go to work and only returned to home once for dinner. I did not share anything at home, just said them I am paying off my loan. After four months I went to my home with bundles of money in my pocket. I was happier than ever and keep thinking how I will explain to my son what a father can do. After entering at house I saw a cycle standing at our yard. Everyone came out after listening me. My old mother giggled and said, ‘Have a look, your son bought a cycle for you by his scholarship money.’ My son was standing in front of the door by looking at the ground. I wanted to take him in my arms and roam around the entire city again just like we did often when he was a child. But a father cannot express his heart so easily. Even if a father feels to cry, they cannot do it like mother’ – Razib’s Father


Tuni got married with my son when she was in a stage of playing with doll. Her widow mother could not provide food for Tuni and upon her request I agreed for the marriage. While Tuni’s mother handover her in my hand, she said, ‘From now, your father-in-law is your father.’ By opening her long veil little Tuni nodded to us. On our way back to home, Tuni fall down in the wet mud and started crying. To stop her crying I was holding her with my one hand and carried her mud toys in another hand. With time, my eight years old daughter-in-law turned eighteen years. My wife and daughters used to hate our daughter-in-law. Even my son never spoke to her nicely in all those years. In a poverty stricken family, I was too helpless to help Tuni. Sometimes when I heard my son to beat her, I rushed to her door and knocked vigorously to help her, but she always replied, ‘I am fine, Abba’. She was more than a daughter to me, during one winter I had pneumonia, every day she cleaned my blooded vomiting with her hands. There is no one who can be so much caring like my little girl. But she was alone, was living inside her own world. Then one day she apparently became lonely when my son died in a boat incident. Everyone blamed her for his death. She started wearing white saree and I could not look at her condition anymore. Torture of wife and daughters exceed all limits. Neither her family visited her for those ten years. One day, our village doctor came to me; he was a young man, who came from a foreign village. After long period of hesitation he said he wanted to marry Tuni. I stood up in anger, and asked him to leave. No widow ever get married in my small island, how could I agree to break societies standard. I could not sleep for whole night, and then next day I declared I will arrange for Tuni’s re-marriage. Every day I faced people’s questions and humiliation, but I was strict to my decision, because I saw a spark in my daughter’s eyes. The night before marriage, all reputed people came to me and asked to withdraw the marriage. When I declined, everyone told me that they will abandon or evict my family forever, I accepted with laughter. With them, my wife and daughters also left the house and left me alone. I asked Tuni to sleep deeply as she had to start a new life the next day. She assured me that she will solve all my worries. Next morning I found her blue body in the ground and a poison bottle next to her. Tuni left the world with all her sufferings.  I tried to hold her hand just like the day when she fell into the ground. That day Tuni was crying but after her death I clearly saw a slight smile on her face like she was saying me, there is no pain anymore, Abba. 

– Ansar Ali


I did not get time to mourn for my wife’s death. I could not cry by remembering her memory that very moment.  Life didn’t allow me to do all that. My wife had left our daughter to me in her form. When midwife handed me my daughter she was a premature baby, maybe she was just two kg. I had never take any child in my lap, but when I held her first time, I could not drop her off in the bed, I closely kept her with my heart. People used to say, new born searches for their mother’s smell or wants to hear the sound of mother’s heartbeat. But my daughter was fully aware of mine.

When she started crying for milk, I was unable to buy anything. I kept going from door to door to the village women who can generously breastfeed my baby. After seeing my tears no one said no to me. But at night it was hard. She cried for milk and I could not provide her anything. I did not sleep for one hour at night throughout her one month age. When she went to sleep, I used to check her breathing with my finger and checked frequently if she is alive or not, sometime in fear I held her in my chest, as I did not want her to leave me.

When villagers tell me I should give her cow milk at night, I could not buy bottle for her. I had no money. I collected an empty medicine bottle and borrowed a nipple and then fixed both together. With that bottle I feed her cow milk every night. When only mothers queue to vaccinate their child, I was the only father who queued with daughter. By thus I do not know how twenty years had passed. Now my daughter is a teacher in the primary school. She did not want me to work in the field anymore, she is taking care of our expenses, and all the time she wonders why I work in the field. I do not want to share that, I am saving for her. What will happen to her when I will die? I wanted her to get married, to start a life with someone she loves. But she is reckless; she said if someone accepted me with her then only she will get married. I do not want to explain her it is not possible in the world we are living. I want her to be loved by someone unconditionally, I want her to get such love which is more powerful than the love I have given her. This is my last wish to God.

– Joyed Ali (50)


I found out my daughter had an affair with a boy for five years. She never spoke about it as she is always afraid of me. Apart of it I assumed my children always hate me for the job I am doing since my childhood. I asked her to bring the boy and his family in our house. I decorated the house like a new bride and brought the best food for them. I have been saving for my daughter’s marriage for twenty years. That day my daughter was happiest than ever. When they started conversation they brought out a note of demand. They wanted all material things a family needs, I was calculating and nodded in agreement with every word they said. After all it’s about happiness of my daughter. The last point was they do not want me to introduce in front of their relatives and I should never go to visit my daughter. The moment they said it my daughter screamed in anger and by surprising all she slapped the boy. She angrily said, ‘My father can do the thing that no one can do. Not everyone can clean others mess. I am proud of what he does and if you do not leave my house in a minute I will beat you all.’ She broke the marriage proposal and ended her five years relationship in a second. From that day I know how fortunate and happy person I am.’ – Sweeper Monu lal


Being Human

Be the reason someone smiles, someone feels loved and believes in the goodness of humanity. Life is a beautiful journey between a Human Being and Being Human. Let’s take at least one step each day to cover the distance.

Sharing ten real life stories of humanity

Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash


I had never seen any love or care for us in anyone’s eyes. When I work people give me a feeling that I came out from Hell.  We cannot sit anywhere to have a cup of tea. People look at us like they look at dirt. There were days when I hid my tears after being insulted by strangers for no reason.  I was sure there was no love left in this world for the poor.

Ten years ago, I was working beside a children’s school. My job was to clean the drain and repair the site. We blocked the road and it was taking a few days so the children had to walk to their school. I attentively did my work every day without noticing anyone who could again insult my job. One day a little girl arrived, smiling widely at me and said, ‘Why are you so dirty?’ Before I could say anything, her father dragged her away by saying, she should never talk to strangers. I felt horrible; imagined he must be telling her daughter how disgusting workers like me were. And then for a week, she came to me every time with same question, why was I so dirty. I never got a chance to speak as her father was always there to drag her away. I could not sleep those nights by thinking about a beautiful reply, ‘why I am dirty’. The poor cannot be clean all the time; we are born in dirt, raise in dirt and die in dirt and no one cares when a dirty thing left the world. I could not say any of this to her. I wanted to quickly finish the job and never wanted to see the girl ever again.

On the last day when we were finishing the work, it was Ramadan afternoon. I was very tired and down. The school was closed and the baby girl did not arrive. I felt relieved, packed everything and was about to leave when suddenly I saw the little girl coming to me by running. She could not breathe properly when she arrived. I was waiting to hear the same question, but she did not say anything and just smiled. Then I asked her where her father is. She showed me a car parked far from us. I waited to hear the same thing. And then she opened her mouth, ‘Uncle, do you like the color red?’ By bringing a packet from behind her she put it in my hand. Her father honked the horn and she quickly said, ‘I cannot clean drain, but I can help you to be clean. This shirt is for you, Uncle.’ I could not say a word and she rushed when her father repetitively honked. The girl left me in tears. She proved to me, humans still care for humans. I do not know where she is now; what she might be doing. I pray to God every day, wherever that little angle is, may God clean all the dirt from her life.

–  Shohrab


I am very thankful to Allah. I have a home to sleep in, food to eat, children to love. There are homeless people who are living near this train station who suffer from the cold at night; beg for food in afternoon; have no one to look after them. When I see them I stop complaining to Allah about the little problems I have. Though I live in this vulnerable house, eat rice and lentils for lunch or dinner and suffer from illness, I am grateful to The Almighty for all the blessings he has given me.

But I have never done anything for anyone. Poverty made me unable to do something for the people who are less fortunate than me. This thought gives me pain all the time.  I often think, what I will take with me when I will die.

Also, I do not know, if I can manage to live another winter or not. People of my age badly suffered this time. No one notices us. When you are old and poor, you suffer silently because there will be no one to hear your pain, no one will come to you to give you warmth. In this crucial season, some of us gather together beside a fire every morning; all of us are waiting for our deaths because every winter one of us is dying. Last year, Safura died from pneumonia. We do not know who will leave us this year.

Life is not easy for me. I have never had any new cloth, but that is okay, there are many people of my age who even do not expect what I have. A few days ago for the first time in my life, I received a winter Shawl. I was not able to open and wear it for days. I keep looking at it and when I decided to wear it, I saw Mariyum, my ninety-year-old neighbor, who does not even have a proper saree. I gifted my shawl to her. I badly want her to survive this winter. If my shawl can keep her warm for some time than it will be the best reward of my life. And what about me? I can manage with this old shawl….and when I feel too cold I do prayers; you can believe it or not, when I pray I feel warm. – Morsheda Begum


Every Friday for almost seven years along my grandma, I continue to go places and I ask people, ‘Do you know me?’ Some days I felt tired and asked her to return. But she always held me, kissed my forehead and asked me to ask the same question to more people. Most of the days we only have green chili to eatwith rice. My grandma is a beggar; she has severe knee pain. She made a wooden stroller for herself and sometimes I push her all the way while begging.  She continually told me I need to find my parents. I feel horrible when she tells me one day she will find my parents and then she will give me back to them. But she has no idea how much I enjoy her cuddling and I know no one other than her. But she is always reminding me that I have a family somewhere.

I was lost at the age of three. My grandma found me on the roadside, crying alone in the middle of strangers. No one was able to tell her who was I and except her everyone left me alone on the road. She took me to the local mosque and waited there with me for a week. I had no memory of these things. I am familiar with only the mosque where she forces me to go every Friday along with her. My grandma nicely kept my cloths which I was wearing when I was lost. I continue to walk miles with her and asking people if they know me.

She sent me to school but I hated the place where everyone asked me about my lost parents and how I feel being raised by a beggar. There was a question in the book, ‘What does your father do?’ And I answered ‘I do not know’. My teacher punished me for writing that. Then I never went back to school again. I started working for my grandma, because I do not want her to beg with her knee pain. I do not like when people yelled at her by asking us to leave. While one day my grandma was feeding me I asked her if she can live without me. Then she started crying and replied she has no one in this world without me. After that I stopped asking the question, ‘Do you know me?’ I do not want anyone to know me, my grandmother is my everything and I only want her to know me well. – Abdullah



I cannot sleep at night because of the pain in my knees. I have to carry 1000 bricks every day and then I get 100 taka. I cannot rest at night because at this moment I am suffering from cold and fever. But I have to work for myself and Munia. My husband brought his second wife Munia when my son was one year old. You will not understand how it feels to see your husband living in the same room with another woman. I hated her so much! Ten years ago in a bus accident my husband died and Munia lost her legs. Now for all these years I am taking care of Munia; whatever I earn I spend for both of us. Relatives tell me many times to throw Munia from my home but I can’t. Like me she has no one to go to. My only son never comes to see me. I know very well how it feels to be abandoned – Lijiya (50)


When I arrived from my village I was seven years old. To get one piece of bread I turned into a dog. Whenever I looked into the sky I felt my world was moving very fast, everything was buzzing all around me. I looked into the dustbin; saw how people were throwing food with filth. I wanted to run and snatch the leftover food from their hands; I imagined how good it would feel to have all that food. I wanted to say, ‘do not throw it away’, ‘please give it to me’. But people were stranger to me; they looked at me like the way they looked at a stray dog. I was hungry for two days and two nights. I drank very little water. Whenever I sipped water I felt I would vomit. Water tasted bitter and I was day dreaming for some food. Then I went to the contractor and told him I could transport five hundred bricks; he just had to give me some food. He looked at me and said, I was of no use for him, because he could count the bones on my body. Then what he saw in me I do not know. He gave me the first chance. That day when I had food I felt nothing in this world has meaning without food. My contractor asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up. I touched my plate and said, ‘When I will grow old, I will share my food’. It’s been twenty years every day I am feeding two hungry children: one in the afternoon, and another during dinner. I have no idea from where these hungry children came to me. They also know they are only welcome for one time. After having food they will be asked to write down the name of Pagla Hasan. Many times I smiled to myself after realizing they do not often recognize that I am the Hasan. They only know there is a Hasan who feeds hungry children. I thank God every time when I touch my food. There is no greater pain than hunger. When these children eat beside me I see myself in them. I feel so content when they burp and smile after having a peaceful meal. People of this world have no idea how valuable two grains of rice is for a hungry stomach.

– Hasan


Billu was injured when I found him beside the train track. He was walking with pain and looking at me for help. I am from a very poor family. Even sometimes, my housemaid mother has to beg for rice so that she can equally feed her three daughters. Taking a cat as a pet does not suit beggars. I looked away and tried to cross the road by ignoring him. When I looked back I saw him looking at me with despair. Then helplessly I went back and embraced him.

We, three sisters hid him from my mother’s eyes for three days. Then one morning, we woke up when amma was screaming in anger. Billu tried to sleep in her cozy blanket and when she screamed in surprise he peed on it. My mother briskly took him and headed for the rail line; three of us begged her not to throw Billu away but she listened to no one. The whole day none of us ate anything….with great surprise Billu returned to us secretly at night by himself. The next morning, my mother took him to a far away place. And informed us the cat could never be able to find us again. But the genius came back again. And again my mother furiously took him with her and left him in a place that we never heard of before. That night we were wide awake to welcome him at home but he did not come back.

The next day, we did not take any food or water, including my mother. During the evening she rushed to search for Billu, by skipping her work. My mother found Billu injured in the same place she had left him. Local people informed her some boys had beaten up him for fun. My mother spent her one month salary on Billu and because of our care he is now fat and naughty.  I asked amma, why she allowed him to be with us. She said, our father left us in an abandoned place and fled because he never wanted daughters. She could never do the same even with an animal. Billu is now our naughty brother, who eats most of our food and sleeps only with my mother. – Rojina



I am a care taker of a mosque. It was my mother’s wish that I should spend my life in the path of Allah. I accepted it after her death. I studied in the village Maktab and took the responsibility of taking care of the mosque I am serving now. I have met different kinds of people the last twenty years. Some are very pious, some are not, some tell lies all the time, some always speak the truth, some help the poor from their heart, some just want to show off. But I met someone whose story I will never forgot. He used to always arrive at the mosque first in the morning. I have never seen him talk to anyone ever. He was not even from our area. Every day after prayers when everyone left the mosque he stayed there and spent hours there by crying alone. Many days I had goosebumps and wondered what made this man so sorrowful. Eventually I learnt that he is a very rich man who lives far away from our place. He established a mosque, a madrassa, a school and an old persons’ home. He has everything that a man can only dream of. After knowing all this I became more interested in knowing the reason of his arrival in this particular mosque and what made him cry so much. One day when he was distributing clothes and food among beggars and the poor, with all my courage I questioned him. He was looking at me for some time and then surprisingly, he said he will answer me the next morning. I could not even sleep that night. That morning when everyone left, he came and sat with me. Then I got to know what I did not even imagine in my worst dreams. The man was left outside this mosque when he was five to seven days old. When his father (who eventually adopted him) came for his Fazaar Prayer he saw a dog trying to open the tie of a folded cloth and started to push towards him. He went there and opened the cloth where he found the baby boy fighting with death and not responding. Without finishing his prayer he took the baby to a doctor while the Imam helped him all the way. The man who had no child adopted him afterward, and tried hard to find the baby boy’s actual parents. But there was no trace of his identity. They raised him perfectly; he is following Islam with all his heart. But since the day he knew about this truth, he was no longer able to rest in peace. He wanted to know from where he had come, who were his parents, why someone wanted to kill him and threw him in the road. He was wrapped by a mustard coloured cloth which implies that he might not even be a Muslim by birth. When he was talking to me about this I lost the words on how to console him but I tried with my heart. I told him, ‘You are the best human being I have ever met. Know that Allah knows everything and whatever happened to you, there must be a reason for that. You should not spend a single day with this thought of sadness which is insulting your current parents’ love and Allah’s love for you. If you believe in their love, you will not hurt your heart anymore. Please do not come to this place ever again; it will not let you forget your past.’ He did not answer me and left. Since that day, he never came here again, I do not know if I did right or wrong, but I felt being human should be our first identity, and all I wanted was to ease his pain as another human.

– Jainal Abedin (36)


The time I needed my family’s support, they left me alone. I was vulnerable and heartbroken. At that time Potu’s mother gave me shelter. Despite our religious differences, differences of my cast and creed, she treated me as a family member. No one ever talked to me nicely but Potu’s mother was the one who showered me love and respect. I celebrated Eid with her and she gifted me new clothes in my puja. I know how difficult it was for her to take me into their house after facing economic and social problems. But she often said Allah is the one to judge, not the people. She passed away while giving birth to Potu. For me he is my blood grandson. I taught him everything his mother should teach him if she would be alive. Every morning I wake him up for his prayers. I will give him the love that I learned from his amazing mother. Now he is my world.

– Al-Amin’s (Potu) grandma       


No one has any concern. Even if somebody dies, even if the whole world gets destroyed, no one really cares! What kind of times are we are all living in? Human are no longer human! Now people do not think of anything else but themselves.  After one hour of continuous efforts, I alone brought the fire under control. To bring water I had to cross the bridge and fell so many times, but no one came to help to stop the fire. ‘The fire will not harm my house even if the whole area is destroyed.’ That was the attitude of all viewers.  By neglecting our requests, factories, tanneries throw wastage here daily; they do not even care for school-going children. Today may be someone’s cigarette created this fire and it might destroy the whole area. Even my neighbor stopped me from coming here, lightly advised, ‘why endanger your own life for others’? What’s wrong with us? I am very tired; I am very depressed, I feel ashamed as a human being to see how hundreds of people find entertainment by watching me from far, without helping a bit’

– Sumon (27)


‘I lost many things in my life and by standing at the end of my life, now I can tell you how I gained everything back that I had lost. My husband died when during flood, a tree had fallen on him. I was standing just ten feet away from him in water. That night, I was seven months pregnant. After losing my husband, my house and everything I had, I felt like committing suicide. But I became a mother after waiting for twelve years for a child. I had to survive for my child, so I came to the city to search for work. After so many struggles I gave birth to my son. The midwife told me, my son had problems and asked me to be prepared for his death. When he died after seven days, I had no one beside me and had no money. Even if you die you need money but no one came forward to help me. Only some orphan-street children gave me money, so I could do his last work. After I buried him when I returned to my hut, I didn’t cry. From that day, I no longer look behind at what I had lost. Since that day, for thirty years, I have feed one orphan each day from my food. I lost my child but I kept giving the portion of his love to every miserable child I met on my way.


For the last five years, I have been suffering from tuberculosis and heart problems. Now all those orphan children grew up and are taking care of me. I lost one child but now I have hundred’ – Maa Asha

Angels on Street

Imagine you are six years old. Left alone on the street. Your ragged clothes are all you have with you. You are bare foot and empty hand. You have no idea what to eat and where to sleep. You roam around at places for couple of hours. Whenever you are trying to go close to people they are yelling at you. And then you are hungry and have no idea how to get some food or a glass of water.  You remain hungry and thirsty all day long and there is no place to rest or seat. And finally night arrives when you meet people like you, who are waiting to sleep nearby closed shops and counters. You are trying to sleep but you shiver in fever. There is no one to hold you other than the newly met street dog who is the only family you have now. Welcome to street!

Sharing Ten real life stories of ‘Angels on Street’, featured first on my Facebook page.  GMB Akash


I did not get anything to eat yesterday. I slept hungry. But now I am feeling lucky to get this rotten bread. My shoes, cloth and food everything comes from this dump yard. Aren’t you asking me about the odor? I was born in this place, someone left me here after my birth, smell of this place make me feel like a home. This is my home and these dogs, birds are my family.

– Abu (10)


One day my father did not return home from work. We searched him everywhere. We went to hospital, spent days by knocking at police station but we found out nothing. I had two younger brothers who had no idea what was happening. After a year of his disappearance everyone started telling that he flew with another woman.  My mother was changing and treating us worse in every passing day. Once she locked me in the toilet and punished me for hours knowing well how much I was afraid of darkness. Then one morning, I wake up and saw she is gone. She as well escaped with someone. I was eleven years old and did not have enough time to find out anything as my brothers were crying all the time. We passed two days without food or any help. After begging to everyone, villagers sat in a meeting with my uncles, aunts and grandparents. My grandparents accepted my two brothers and decided to send me to work as a housemaid in Dhaka. A girl is a burden that is what my relatives told to everyone. On my way to Dhaka, I discovered the woman who was accompanying me was telling my price to someone on the phone. I had no idea who was selling me to whom but I knew I need to escape. I took an enormous brick and hit on her head, she was bleeding heavily but I did not look back. This world is a bad place but I have already learned to survive – Nargis (13)


I have nobody. I live alone. Sometimes I go to play with children of this neighborhood. They do not take me to participate in their game. They laugh at me because I have no idea where my parents live. They mocked me by making my parents name. I do not mind. Humiliation is a part of my life. That’s why now-a-days, all the time I play alone. You will not feel bad anymore when you will learn how to enjoy alone. That’s how I stopped looking for friends. I am happy and can move freely now. By the way, I call myself bird, isn’t this a good name?
– Pakhi (10)


My mother was a prostitute. I was born in a brothel. I never saw her happy but she smiled every single time I looked at her. Everyone at our place was unhappy because my mother gave birth to a boy. My mother was different. She never allowed me to go near her. I wanted to sleep in her lap; I wanted to get her kisses. But she never let me to touch her. Sometimes I wanted to hate her badly. Some days when I woke up, I saw her torturing herself by scratching her hands, feet with sharp blades. I wiped her blood, I wiped her face, but she never cried. She always smiled to me. One day I asked her where my father lived, my prostitute mother pointed at her heart. I tried to hate her with all my heart. Every day, everyone called me a bastard. It was same in the slum where me and my mother arrived after fled from brothel to start a new life. No one gave work to my mother, no one talked to us. Often times people threw stones in the roof of our plastic hut. The day my mother died, she was very clam. For the first time she kissed me on my cheeks. Told me that, she is thankful to me for choosing her as a mother, for giving her love that she never received in her life. My mother left me alone. She cannot come to me. But I can go to her.

– Shadhin (13)


I was very afraid of dogs. Now it’s been one month I cannot sleep, if dogs do not sleep around me. Often times, I cry during sleep. When my friend Jewel shakes my shoulder, I usually stop crying. In the first day, when I arrived in Sadarghat, street boys had beaten up me a lot. They said it is needed to make street boys strong. But I am not at all strong. I cry in simple things. But people around me do not have time to notice my crying and that I feel relieved for that. I cried a lot, when my mother got married after death of my father. When I was following the groom’s group, she called me and said, if I try to follow her, she will throw me in the river. My grandparents also refused me to take inside their home. Now-a-days I do not feel that much bad, my mother was very poor, so how she could take care of me! When we street boys try to sleep at night, we talked about our dreams. One day I will have a house, where I will have a bed. That time if I want, I can eat hot rice by cooking in the kitchen, I do not have to save money for taking shower, and there will be a bathroom in my house. My friend Jewel, request me to give him a place inside my house. I said, if he stop telling lie, I will think about it – Israfil (8)


My step mother was like a rose. After my father got married with my mother, I used to be with her all the time. She could tell all kind of funny jokes; she made various kinds of pickles for me. When everyone used to say, my mother is a witch, I burst into tears and fought with them. I used to love my mother a lot. Even I loved my brother who came with my new mother. I used to play with him and shared all my things. One day we got to know a little brother will come soon into our life. I was so happy, so was my family. Mother one day told me, she wanted to go to ride the boat in river, and wanted me to be with her.  She told me not to share this with my father, as he never would let me to go to river, because I am afraid of water. Without telling anything to anyone, I went with my mother and her cousin for a boat ride. That was a beautiful afternoon. When the boat went in the middle of river, my mother asked me to pick a floating wild flower for her. While I bend my head to pick the flower, I was pushed into the river. Before I understood anything I was drowning in the middle of the river. While screaming for help I saw their boat went very far from me. I do not know how much distance I passed while a fisherman boat saved me. With the fisherman, I got into a launch. I did not try to find out my lost home. That one push took my childhood and I become mature. I did many kind of works to survive. Now I help the van owner while he carries sacks. Many years had passed but still I am having the nightmare that I am drowning in the river and everyone is laughing.

– Manik (12)


I have to work with a lot of attention. This is not easy to find usable stuff from garbage. Sometimes after whole day I found one thing to sell in the recycle shop. And in a good day I can find biscuits. Not ordinary biscuits, the one which has cream. That’s my favorite. Some days I find biscuits which tastes very sour but my dog like to have that, so I give him without eating those. And in a very bad day, I cut my feet. I think people do not know that children work in the garbage on bare foot. They throw away broken glasses which often scratch our feet. Sometimes it bleeds heavily. It hurts a lot. I and my dog have had many scars in our legs. That’s why now a days I am keeping clothes with me. If it bleeds I tie and continue to work.

– Jesmine (7)


My name is Rasel and I do not know who gave me this name. I am an orphan. I am living in street for four years. When I arrived in Dhaka I was injured and hungry, but no one cared about street people. I cried so many days because I wanted someone to care for me or talk to me with a smile. But people have no time for love. So, I started loving everyone. I share my food and take care of my street friends. Meet with my new friend, Kutum, it means guest, and she is my guest. I cured her injury with my love and now taking care of her. I will look after her, as long as she will not leave me. But I will never leave Kutum. I know how it feels to be alone and being unloved.


My mother flew with me when my father wanted to make me disable, after my birth, so that he could use me, for begging. I do not know what my mother actually does; she sleeps whole day and works at night when I sleep. We live in street, our neighbors and police calls me ‘whore’s daughter’, mom told me not to reply them, as bad people always talk bad. I am a flower seller, I sell flowers, I do not beg. But people have no time to look at flowers. I pop into the window of big cars and see beautiful children, with their parents. Sometimes I wonder, didn’t their dad want to sell their organ or want to make them disable for begging! One day a rich mom buy all my flowers for her girl but when the girl wanted to give me money, she said not to touch me, I might have disease. The baby girl threw the money in the air and I caught that. The day made me the best flower seller among all – Lutfa


My problem is I am a fool and I cannot tell a lie. A few days ago a beggar hired me to act as her blind child. We supposed to roam around the city’s signal and beg for food. At the end of the day she promised me to give fifty taka and food. I rehearsal well and she was convinced that I acted marvelous. And then we started our mission. For an hour it was going good, but then we went near to a car window and a lady with her child was giving me some money. I saw the boy was playing with a car. The lady seemed generous so instead of taking the money I told her, ‘Madam, I am a blind child, I have no toys, can you please give your son’s red car?’ After a few minutes the car driver was chasing behind me and I was running with my life by leaving my fake beggar mother behind.

– Polash (10)

You can be part of making some of them smile, you can also tell them they are loved, you can give them some hope for a day or life time. Last year I organized three events for more than 2000 unprivileged children of streets, dump yard, brick field and child labourer. This year I want to reach more and want you as well to be part of this happiness. You can send clothes, slippers, toys, dry food for these children. Email me at akashphoto@gmail.com to contribute for a smile. I will send you detail how you can become someone’s light.

To check my last year’s event with unprivileged children: 

Many Miles Many Smiles

Today is Our Holiday

Eid Love


The Alchemy of Mother

A mother’s womb is the place where life and love begin. In her heart we never grow up. No one smells like her and she remains the same even after hundred years. And when she dies she leaves a part of her soul for us; wherever we go her existence follows us. A mother’s heart can travel any time and any distance. There is an invisible chord between us which our mothers continue to nourish forever. This blog post is a Tribute to all mothers. This is for honoring the most irreplaceable person of our life. No one knows the alchemy of mother, she remains the one, no one can take her place.

Sharing Ten heart wrenching real life stories of Mothers, featured first on this Facebook page.  GMB Akash

mother 01

Like everyone you are also thinking that I am a beggar. But I never begged for a single day of my life. But strangely every day after I wake up I found money beside my head. I stopped wondering at generosity of strangers. There are many street children who love to stay nearby me. Because they had seen me giving away my money to other beggars. I never gave money to children, but always bought ice cream for them. My grandson loved ice cream a lot. My secret savings was for his ice cream. The day I was coming to the city with my son for my eye treatment, my grandson hugged me and was not letting me to come. He was telling me I won’t be able to come back, I was laughing on him as he always spoke about strange things. Then I told him to always remember, at the end, everything will be okay. I was sitting on the bench of the train station for almost two days. I waited for my son to arrive with a rickshaw, he told me not to move no matter what happened. The street boy who was selling water repeatedly told me, he saw my son leaving by the next train, he had heard him telling someone that he already got rid of a sick old woman. I did not trust him. I could not trust a street kid more than my son. I was not able to see clearly but as much as I could I was looking forward for his arrival, my ears were alert to hear his voice. I terribly wanted to go back to his house and give my grandson a hug. The street kid stayed with me for all the time, told me his father also left him in that station, assured me, he knew how I was feeling. No, no one can fell what I was feeling. I lost terribly in life many, many times. From the day I arrived to this strange city I never asked anyone to help. But I am asking you. Can you replace my heart? It’s been bleeding all the time without any sign of blood. I am having a terrible pain inside my chest, a feeling of pain that someone has crushed me with this world’s weight. I need peace, rest and love. But in this world there are people like me who may never get any of this. And that’s okay. Because at the end, everything ends.

– Jahanara Begum

mother 02

My life had always been different. There were some cold nights when my step mother punished me by keeping me outside our home. She wanted me to leave my father. But I couldn’t. I stood all nights outside their door and cried. Their door, liked their hearts, always remained closed. I was deprived of my father’s love and later on, of his property. After marrying me off, they directly asked me to never visit them again. To confirm that decision, my father gave all his property to my step brothers before my father died. I accepted and never questioned my father. You can’t fight to get love, it has to come on it’s own.

I lost my mother during my birth. I learned how to survive cruelty, as the world’s most unfortunate is the one who loses his mother during birth. I was also unfortunate to never know how it felt to be loved. When my husband shut his door on my face as well, I not surprised. I had been losing the battle since my life’s day one. And that day when my husband threw me away, I did not know what was about to come. I had no idea that a life was growing inside me. When I knew about my child, it was too late and I did not want to go to that house where I was beaten by everyone for the crimes I never did. Surprisingly, when I started living on street, I was happier. I slept hungry in my father’s house and as well as my husband’s many nights, but I never went to sleep hungry when I lived on my own in the streets. There was always someone who shared their food with me. There were beggars who gave me food, and laborer who gave me clothes. I was not alone among the strangers but I was so lonely among my very own family.

When my son was about to be born, I started having the fear of death. But we both survived. I passed hours looking at his face and often pinched myself it make sure it wasn’t just a dream. I have never felt such joy in my thirsty years of life. Though there was no one beside my child, I could never say his father’s name, no one cared for him without me, but together, we found happiness in our fragility. I continued to fight for our happiness.

A few days ago, when I had to bring him to this hospital, the doctor told me they will try their best to save my son, but I should prepare for the worst and stay strong.That moment I refused to be strong. I refused to be strong anymore. I refused to let go of my life. I spent the whole night on my knees. praying to God with every word I know, with all the belief I had. For how much longer would God keep putting so much of weight on my chest? When would he understand how hard it was for me? I refused to take any more pain. I do not know how I passed that night . After sun rise, a nurse arrived and asked me to visit my child. I rushed to him. And discovered that God had answered my prayer; he had given back me my life. I won’t let him go anywhere.

– Mayeeda

mother 03

No one ever loved me. When my mother left me, in shock I could not able to talk for a year. It was not her crime. But I wanted to sleep in her lap for at least one night, but I could not. My father never bought a hair lace for me. I could not remember if anyone loved me for a while. No one kept their hand in my head to give me courage. One day I lost myself. My aunt willingly left me in a ferry station, knowing I would never make it home. I was so afraid and cold. Just felt like the day when my mother left me alone. A girl, ten years old in an unknown, strange world, where there is no love, empathy. Since then years had passed, I did everything to survive. People used me in so many purposes. I wanted to die but surprisingly found out dying is harder than living, I could not throw myself in river water, I kept loving and hating me all at once. When I first felt my daughter’s movement, I was hungry, there was nothing to eat. There is no bigger pain than hunger; my tiny girl could not sleep inside my womb because we were hungry, hungry for food and love. The day when she was born there was no one beside me, when she grabbed my fingers; I felt for the first time – someone arrived to love me, whom I will never let go.

– Reshma

mother 04

‘One day madam bought a girl of nine years old. Her stepmother sold her to a brothel and then spread the news that she had been lost. The stepmother was satisfied to get rid of a stepdaughter for a life time and 3000 taka was just a bonus of selling a human being. My madam gave the little girl to me to prepare for clients. She was a doll, her pink chubby cheeks and big brown eyes melted my heart. When she cried and cuddled me at night I felt like that baby was made of milk. I went through forced abortions two times; for me Putul was my lost fetus. I bought her a doll to play with. After seven days she was able to speak, her first question was, ‘will that madam cut my hands and send me for begging’? I closed my eyes and whispered, ‘they will do much worse than anyone’s imagination’. Madam was impatient and gave me one week to teach her all the tricks of the business. And I planned something else by putting my life at risk. The day before they fixed a client for Putul, I communicated with one of my old admirers to talk to an organization who was working with orphans. I knew they would kill me if they found me while or after transporting the girl to the orphanage. But that time I did not care about my life. I was able to get her free from this hell. She left her toy doll for me as her memory. I know there must be thousands of such hells waiting for the girl but at least I was able to save her from the biggest one. Please pray for my baby; may she get all the happiness and love in her life; may her chubby cheeks always gets rosy from laughter.’

– Purnima, a sex worker

mother 05

I used to think with every passing year I might forget every scar I have. But that did not happen. Even by passing time I tend to remember all tiny memories deeply. I had a past that shattered my present and future. My parents married me off when I was nine years old. Before I knew what is the rule of a husband I was married. My first daughter was born when I was ten. By the time, my husband and in-laws had sent back me and my daughter to my home as my parents were unable to pay them dowry. To me, my daughter was nothing just a lively doll to play. And again before I could play with my doll enough they snatched her and married me off with my current husband. My mother sent off my daughter to a far flung location that still now I have no idea who have adopted her and where she might be. My bitter life started and my current husband continued to question me about my past for the rest of my life. I gave birth to three sons and by the time they know about my past all were adult and educated. They rejected me and continued to insult me with their father. At the age of eighty five I urge to be with my lost daughter. She is just ten years younger than me but when I recall her I can only remember some tiny fingers holding me tight, I get a smell something like cinnamon, I see those big eyes wondering at me. I keep living in my past; I am still a ten years old mother.

– Tahora Khattun (85)

mother 06

I never called my mother ‘maa’. Calling her maa was prohibited. My mother gave birth to me secretly. I heard that my father never returned to take her back. No one knew where he went. On the day of my mother’s wedding she held me in her chest she cried a lot. I was five years old and never allowed to call my mother ‘Maa’. Her sandalwood smell enchanted me for long. I told her, ‘Aunty your smell is amazing.’ Like everyone, my new father knew I was the daughter of her late sister. He pointed at me and told my grandmother, I should never visit their village. My grandma laughed and snatched me from my mother saying I would never visit them. When my mother was leaving I was locked inside our kitchen but my heart was running behind her. I was crying and saying, ‘Aunty, come back.’ Calling Maa was forbidden.

My grandfather planted a coconut tree when my grandma conceived my mother. That tree was same age as my mother. She taught me to call that tree ‘Maa’. For twenty years I called that tree ‘Maa’. I never went to see her and she never arrived to see me. Sometimes I secretly embraced the tree and whispered how much I missed my mother. It was very difficult to sleep at night; I wanted to have her smell. Without that sandalwood smell it was impossible to fall asleep. Most night I cried and cried bu did not utter the word ‘Maa’.

My mother sent all my expenses but I was raised alone. On my wedding day, with everything my mother also sent me her wedding saree, the saree that my father gave her on their wedding. She was not allowed to attend my wedding. But I did not miss her, I was wearing her wedding saree which had her sandalwood smell. I had no idea if she missed me or not. No idea if she ever wanted to tell me anything. After my mother’s death they wanted to take me to see her for last time. I did not attend her funeral. Even now to me my mother is an eighteen years old beautiful girl, whose long hair and big eyes are enough to fall in love, who smells like sandalwood. Whenever I close my eyes, I see those big eyes, filled with an ocean of tears. In my dreams I tell her not to worry, I tell her how happy I am without her. Only sometimes I wanted to scream and call her ‘Maa’, ‘Maa come back’.

– Suraiya

mother 07

I did not want to kill him. I wanted him to be in my life. I knew that if anyone could find it out, they would kill him. But I was able to hide him for many months. Then sometimes in morning when I went to sleep I asked myself why to punish someone by bringing into my life which has no hope, no tomorrow. But he was the only one with whom I talk like a child without being afraid, without being someone else. He also responded in my stomach like a butterfly by assuring that he will never leave me.

The day my madam found out I was pregnant; she wanted to kill my child. She was trying to kick me and I held her legs. I screamed, begged her to give me a chance to live. I did not leave her feet for how long I cannot say; then she stopped pushing me and asked me why I wanted to bring lifetime suffering. She left without hurting me anymore.

Then the time arrived. During delivery I had eclampsia and severe blood loss. Through the entire time I did not stop talking to my child, I whispered to him that we had to make the journey. Till then we survived many miracles. He was then three months old, his only favorite thing was bird. But we were caged; I was not able to show him any bird. We had no room and I had to go back to attend clients. With every passing day, I was afraid that one day my boy will hate me most. But whenever I looked at him he always smiled by assuring that all I had is him.

He was three months twenty days old when I handover him to a childless couple. They were crying after holding my baby. I looked from distant; felt he was in the right hands. My madam requested me to keep Murad, told me that I won’t survive without him. But my mother heart felt Murad will be happy with them than me. When they were leaving, the woman came to me, put a packet of money in my bag and said they will keep his name Murad, they will not change it. I said nothing. Then the man came closer to show me Murad for the last time. Told me that when he will grow older they will bring him back to me and if he wants to be with me, they won’t stop him. I looked at my child, he smiled to me like always. I said, ‘Never tell him, his mother was a prostitute. Never let him to search me. He should never know he was born in a cage. I want him to be a bird, to fly in the sky, if you can, helps him to do that.’ I returned their packet and was able to come back to the brothel without looking back; I do not want my child to smile at a prostitute.

 – Momota

mother 09

I turned eighteen last month. I am a single mother, living alone with my only daughter. The day my husband left us I had to spend that night in train station. Because we had no place to go. My father asked me not to bother him and my step mother by any means. I did not want to disturb anyone. My struggle was not only about money or food; it was mainly saving my respect. When I was sitting in train station, wondering where I would go next morning, many men came near to me and whispered to my ears. I went freeze by holding my daughter close to my chest.

It was always a battle to earn respect for myself as a single mother. Because I felt that being a single mother is a crime. Every woman I know thinks I am after their men. Every man I know somehow tried to exploit me. My neighbor woman asked me to shut my door after evening, as her husband spends his free time at our open yard. I shut my door tightly even in day light. I do not let light to come at my house or any man.

In the beginning when I collected my wages, the contractor always tried to touch my fingers. May be he thought like all other men that I am too available to have. That day, I slapped the man on his face, pulled his collar, pushed him on the ground and kicked on his chest. Everyone was afraid and I was screaming like a wounded animal. I did not know that kind of woman existed on me, but I am glad to find that woman that day.

My crime is I never played victim, even when my husband fled with another woman. I broke, I crushed, I cried but I rose again and smiled. My daughter has no birth certificate as it required a father’s name. I assured my daughter we will find a country in this earth where mother’s name will be sufficient for any birth record.

– Yesmin (18) with her daughter Meem

mother 08

Inside a cotton bag I used to keep everything I had. In that bag there were my mother’s wedding saree, my children’s first clothes and my husband’s spectacle. I kept everything very dearly. In my life I have had only a few moments of happiness and I never wanted to lose those. At the age of thirty I lost my husband. I was a widow with seven children. I was not able to spend one day quietly after my husband’s death. The next day after his death I had to plough the field. At that night I went for fishing alone. After catching some fishes I cried by sitting at river side by calling my husband’s name. My house was broken which had no door. I remained alert, stayed awake all night by putting my children at sleep. I went to jungle to collect foods, I climbed in the tree, and I moved from places to places to feed my children. I spent countless days by starving, satisfyingly watching my children to eat. Whenever I went to jungle my youngest son would always follow me. He held my hand and assured me that one day when they will grow old he will give me everything I want. They grew old and I along my cotton bag kept moving in seven places for twelve months. I become a shadow for the children who were my life. I heard my elder son asking his wife, when she thinks I may die, I heard her replying ‘Not soon’. Last year when I went to live with my youngest son, I asked him to buy me a pair of glass. I showed him my empty medicine box and gave him my prescription. Suddenly he started shouting with me. He brought me out from his house, placed my cotton bag in my hand and dragged me outside far from his place. He placed me in the road; asked me to beg, told me that women of my age can manage their life by begging. He left very quickly while people were gazing at me. I felt shame, I tried not to cry, tried to hold something to get up on my own. Someone picked me up, asked me where I wanted to go. I did not reply. That moment I badly wanted to become thirty again, wanted to go to the field, to run into the jungle, to live my life. When I was slowly leaving the village a part of me was crying for my youngest son, a part of me was telling that he would arrive any moment, will hold my hand as he used to hold in his childhood. I shamelessly waited at the river side. And then I threw away my cotton bag in that river where once I used to catch fishes for my children. After that I never cried, never felt hungry for food or love.

– (Maa) Nureeja

mother 11

‘I am v-e-r-y afraid of airplane. I have claustrophobia. My son and daughter-in-law were not at all ready to leave me but I pushed them to go. My grandchildren were crying for me. But I decided to live in this old home and said if they could call me every day then I will be okay. That’s why everyday my son call me. Telling you the truth boarders envy me when I tell them how my grandchildren do skating and where they go for vacations. Last year all of them came to visit me and forced me to go with them. You know, they all are waiting for me and I will fly as soon as I will be no more afraid of flying’

After three years when I went to visit her, she went far away, in a place where there is no fear or waiting exit. I came to know that she was waiting for her son’s call for past five years. Three days authority waited for a reply from relative to handover them the dead body. The address and phone number were nonexistent. No one ever come to see her except me.


‘Heroes of Life’ – Part I

‘Heroes of Life’ – are those incredible humans who always find their way to light and love. They had known defeats, sufferings, struggles yet they possess a beautiful story in their hearts, which is worthy to share with the world.

Kawser Hossain, Shamsuddin Miah and Rani’s stories touched everyone’s heart. They were featured first in GMB Akash facebook page and become an inspiration for thousands of people all over the world. This video is about how we have helped three of them so they can give a good fight with their lives and remains as unbroken as they were. Thanks everyone for giving them love, respect and support.

You tube Video: ‘Heroes of Life’ Video interview



Yesterday, I was able to buy a new dress for my daughter after two years. While I handed sixty pieces of five taka note to the seller, he yelled at me by asking if I am a beggar. My daughter held my hand and cried to leave the shop by saying that she did not want to buy any dress. I wept off her tears with one hand. Yes, I am a beggar. Ten years ago I had never thought in my nightmares that I have to live by begging from people. The night coach fell from the bridge and unbelievably I was alive. I was alive by becoming a disable. My youngest son often ask me where had I left my other hand. And my daughter Sumaiya feed me every day by saying she knows how difficult it is to do all work with one hand.

After two years my daughter is wearing a new dress, that’s why today I brought her with me to play for some time. May be I will not be able to earn anything today, but I wanted to roam around with my little girl. I secretly borrowed this mobile phone from my neighbor without informing my wife. My daughter has no picture and I want to make this day memorable for her. When one day I will have a phone I will take a lot of pictures of my children. I want to keep good memories. It’s very difficult to send my children to school, but I am educating them all. Sometimes they cannot attend exam because giving exam fees is not always possible by me. On those days they feel very sad then I tell them, sometimes we can miss exams because the biggest exam is life which we are giving every day.

Now I will go for begging. I will place my daughter in a signal where she will wait for me. I will look at her from distant while begging. I feel shame while she looks at me when I lend my one hand to others. But she never leaves me alone. Because there are big cars, she thinks accident can happen again, these cars could run on me and I would die. Whenever I managed to get some money I return to home by holding my daughter’s hand. We do bazaar on our way and my daughter always carry that bag. During rain we love to get wet and talk about our dreams. In someday I do not get any money, on those days we return to home silently. On those days I feel like to die but at night when my children fall in sleep by holding me I feel being alive is not a bad thing. Only bad is when my daughter waits for me in the signal by keeping her head down. When I cannot look at her eye while begging. But today is different. Because today my daughter is very happy. Today this father is not a beggar. Today this father is a king and here is his princess.

– MD. Kawsar Hossain


This father and daughter received love from all around the world. It takes almost one month for me to find out him. After several meetings with the family, Kawser wanted to have a source of income. He wanted to do vegetable business in rickshaw van. He also wanted to educate his daughter and he never want to beg in his life.


I promised Kawser to gift a van rickshaw and settle his vegetable business. He has received vegetable business and a rickshaw van. His children received scholarship for one year. I long a few generous friends contributed for this cause. ‘This Heroes of life’ – are extraordinary human beings. Sumaiya and his father Kawser is already making differences in their life.









‘We can help someone with the minimum we have. Someone’s nothing can be someone’s everything’   

Remember the elderly couple?’ For everyone they are ‘The Baghban couple’!

slum (2)


Last year we fled together. We never thought we could do that. I knew that our children may stop communicating with us. But I and my wife are living forty seven years together. Every day after sunrise she wakes up me first and together we do our prayers. Forty seven years we never had spent a day without each other. Seeing my wife’s face was the first thing happen to me every day. We struggled together with our six children. In the past, often times I was able to manage one time food for my family, I and my wife starved whole day after feeding our children. She never complained, never told me that I was failed as a husband. After so much suffering we never left each other’s side, never fought one single day, and never lost faith on each other. When my elder son took me and the youngest daughter took their mother, we did not realize that they decided to take us separately. Our children earn little and they have their expenses. After fulfilling their children’s need our need was burden to them. We knew everything but it was impossible for us to accept that we cannot be together anymore. I shamelessly asked my elder son and he was very surprised. He informed me that none of them are capable of taking care both of us.

I tried to adjust. But every morning when I wake up I wanted to see her smile. I spent my whole day by waiting for my son’s arrival so I could talk to her with the phone he had. But he arrived late night when on the other side my daughter usually went to sleep. The day when I was able to hear her voice none of us could speak a word. I heard how hard she tried to keep clam her tearful voice and I murmured stupid things. I never thought life can become so meaningless without each other. Every day I felt to run to my daughter’s house which was far away from mine. Then one day by gaining some courage I told her that I wanted to run together. By surprising me, she asked me to go right away. I took my walking stick and never looked back. We run away together with empty hand.

Now I sell children’s toy. I hardly can manage 100 taka every day and after I return to home I found food on our bed. Our children arrived once to see us last year; they told us how we failed them, how humiliated they felt for our behavior. We did not say anything. We do not want to hurt them. They decided to never come again. Sometimes we feel bad for our children, we miss them. But we know we are running out of time. I am fifteen years older than my wife. Any day I may die in the road while selling children’s toy. So I keep saving some money in a mud bank, I do not want my wife to beg to people to finish my last work. But every day my wife cries a lot during her prayer, whenever I ask her why she is crying so much, she would always say, ‘I want to die with you’.

– Samsuddin Miah (77) with her wife Rekha Begum (62)


For Shamsuddin Chacha, it’s very hard to walk miles after miles by carrying toys in his back. After all his hard work the little money he earns goes for his cancer patient wife’s medicine. After daily struggle of managing food and medicine, every day they find their way in their wrecked one bed room house. I along my facebook page GMB Akash friends comes forward to help him. ‘After receiving the rickshaw van and shoe business we are very happy. We pray to God so we can move forward with this work. I cannot thank enough everyone who has helped us. We are feeling like today is an Eid day’ – Shamsuddin Miah


Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal …



He was about to throw my one month old boy. I was holding his leg and he was kicking me constantly. There were scars in every parts of my body. With blade, knife and needle. Sometimes by holding my legs he pulled me out in such a speed that it was very difficult to keep my clothes on my body. My daughter had run behind me by taking one of her scarf to cover the naked parts of my body. She used to scream, ‘Please, help my mother.’ But no one came to help us. He had beaten me on the road. Someday my girl counted the scars of my body and often told me that she lost those unlimited counts. My husband was a heroin addict. After selling everything I had, we were the only things for him to sell. I used to keep poison with me all the time. My daughter knew that it was poison. Whenever we were hurt, by holding and crying to me she asked, ‘When will we have the poison, maa?’ I asked her, ‘Why?’ By weeping her eyes off she replied, ‘It’s very painful to live.’ Then that night arrived when I decided to end all our pains. We were counting hours for our death. My one month old son was smiling in his dream. I could not put poison on his mouth. I held both of them with my chest and ran away, ran away before anyone could sell us or kill us. At that midnight no one asked us what had happened, where were we going? Whenever I was slowing my daughter was crying and telling me, ‘Run Maa, run.’ When the sun was rising, we heard the sound of azaan and crows were flying all over above our heads. I asked myself, ‘Where should I go?’ I wanted to give a chance to me and my children, by breathing in free air, by having some courage to dream. Without knowing where to go, whom to knock. I do not know what we will eat tomorrow. My daughter is struggling every single day to feed us. I am incapable of walking straight. Every night I heard my daughter crying secretly, whenever I touch her head to calm her down she often whisper, ‘Everything will be okay, very soon.’ I nod and say ‘Yes’ to her. Knowing very well nothing will change, light will never enter in our lives, we will never be able to smile. Not everyone knows how it feels to be happy in life.

– Rani (33)

Rani wanted to change her life. To help her we settled her with a rickshaw van and spice business.



Everyone can help someone. Everyday can be a different day. Thanks for becoming a part of this change making journey by giving your warm words, by offering your gift and making everyone believe that humanity exist

–         GMB Akash

Incredible Humans

Incredible Humans are extraordinarily beautiful. And the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

Welcome to my blog to meet 10 incredible humans : ten workers of all time who were previously featured on my Facebook page:  GMB Akash

Undoubtedly their views on life will fill us with awe and leave us in wonder. Let’s have some inspiration to celebrate May Day.


‘We do everything a man does, our working hours are same. But when I went to take my wage the manager gave me 50 taka less than my male coworker. I asked what my mistake was. He shouted on me and said, ‘You did more work than him. But you don’t wear shirt. You are a woman. You will get always less.’ The next day I came to work by wearing a shirt. All the men laughed at me. I ignored them and asked the manager to pay me equal as I wore a shirt after listening to him. I clearly saw he was hesitating and was afraid of my bravery. But again he said, ‘He will pay all women equal if all of us could wear shirts.’ He gave me a smile like a fox. I lost hope, knowing no one will wear a shirt. The next day when I arrived at the field all women were wearing their husband’s shirt on the top of their saree. I never could imagine the manager would be this much afraid of seeing us together. He paid all women equal to men for the first time during his ten years in the brick field’s history. From that day girls call me, ‘Hero’. I don’t mind!’ – Taslima


‘I lost my mother when I was very young. I always tried to please my stepmother. I do not know but why she never tolerated my shadow. She had beaten me a lot. I used to stand silently the times she was beating me, I could not cry, as she told me that if I cried she would throw me out from the house. After tolerating all these, one day she finally threw me from my home. I cried loudly all night by standing in front of the closed door, but not even my father came out to take me back. I came to Dhaka from Chadpur. I used to roam around all the streets and sometimes ate from dustbins. Then one day I got this job, a job as a sweeper. But the sad thing is, everyone hates us, no one talks to us. Today I am very happy, brother, nobody ever took my photo, no one ever wanted to know if I have something to share. When you tell my story to people please tell them not to hate us. If we stop cleaning, you will die. We are servant, we go into your rubbish and by becoming dirty we cleanse you.  Please do not look at us with hatred’

– Md. Rabbi (18)


‘One day madam bought a girl of nine years old. Her stepmother sold her to a brothel and then spread the news that she had been lost. The stepmother was satisfied to get rid of a stepdaughter for a life time and 3000 taka was just a bonus of selling a human being. My madam gave the little girl to me to prepare for clients. She was a doll, her pink chubby cheeks and big brown eyes melted my heart. When she cried and cuddled me at night I felt like that baby was made of milk. I went through forced abortions two times; for me Putul was my lost fetus. I bought her a doll to play with. After seven days she was able to speak, her first question was, ‘will that madam cut my hands and send me for begging’? I closed my eyes and whispered, ‘they will do much worse than anyone’s imagination’. Madam was impatient and gave me one week to teach her all the tricks of the business. And I planned something else by putting my life at risk. The day before they fixed a client for Putul, I communicated with one of my old admirers to talk to an organization who was working with orphans. I knew they would kill me if they found me while or after transporting the girl to the orphanage. But that time I did not care about my life. I was able to get her free from this hell. She left her toy doll for me as her memory. I know there must be thousands of such hells waiting for the girl but at least I was able to save her from the biggest one. Please pray for my baby; may she get all the happiness and love in her life; may her chubby cheeks always gets rosy from laughter.’

– Purnima, a sex worker


‘I am trying hard to love the job I am doing. But it seems impossible to be happy with my work life. I am giving my one hundred percent. Not a single day do I arrive late at work nor ever overlook any of my mistakes. My job is to help passengers on the train. After giving my best, so many times people have misbehaved with me. It really hurts. People behave miserably to such an extent that I lose control over myself but I never utter a single negative word against passengers. After returning home, many nights I tried to understand why everyday people are becoming aggressive; why educated-socialized people are uttering ugly words against someone they do not even know. Maybe now-a-days we all are going through so much stress and anxiety; who knows? But behaving well to people is not only my job responsibility, it’s my moral value. I only earn 5000 taka monthly; it’s very difficult to run a family with the amount of money I am receiving. But that does not mean I will only perform according to my salary scale; I want to perform my best.’ – Pappu (22)


‘I was very happy when I got a job as receptionist. I only went up to class eight so I was surprised when I got the job while I actually went for a peon post. I belong to a poor family and I have little brothers. My mother was very happy by the kindness of my boss. How lucky was I to get a respectable job with my little education! Things were okay at the beginning. But then I started feeling what only a woman can feel with her inborn senses Many things happened and I could not drop my job and tried to adjust as much as I could. One day when I was showing the appointment list to my boss he touched my hand and asked if I had I heard about Sunny Leone. He would be happy to watch a film of hers with me. I just said, ‘no’ and ran from his room. I cried my heart out while returning home. But I decided to speak up. The next day during lunch sir’s wife came with lunch. I entered inside the boss’s room and with a brief greeting boldly said, ‘Mam, do you know Sunny Leone? Sir wants to watch a movie of hers with me.’ I could never forget their faces. That was my slap to the most educated man. I am very happy with my textile job, I am a worker, but I have dignity, which I will never compromise for money and a reputed post.’

– Nilu, Textile worker


‘I am not living with my husband and in-laws anymore. I was fed up living with a drug addict, who sold everything I had: my saree, sandals, even the bucket of the bathroom. My in-laws kept taunting me as they believed I was the one who could change him but I failed. I realized it would be very late if I did not leave him at that point. But I loved him entirely. It was not easy for me to leave my husband and start a life with my only child. My brothers shut their door in my face. My grandmother was the only one who gave me shelter and helped me to find work. What more could I accept from a ninety-year old woman? She did not turn off her love while the rest of the world kept blaming me by saying what an awful woman I am who broke up her own marriage. But I know my suffering, my fights, my fears and my limits. No one else felt what I had gone through. Yesterday, my child cried all day as I cannot breastfeed her in the work place, publicly. I know well how men gave nasty looks; women pass bitter comments and breastfeeding becomes a sin for working women. But today, when my daughter started crying, I said to myself, if I can go against the society for the betterment of my child, then I can breastfeed her too. There should be a stop to this limitation and I am no longer afraid of what society says about me.’

– Jesmin (28)


My wife died when my daughter was 40 days old. My daughter was my reason to live. I never thought to remarry. When she was a child I used to take her with me to work. Everyone used to laugh at me. I had not much money to send her to school. But at night I took her with me to the elderly school. Together we learned to read and write. When she turned fifteen a good marriage proposal came from a far away village. We are very poor. I could not give her anything. She took my writing book with her as my memory. I did not have money to visit her nor did her husband let her come to meet me. When she became pregnant I went to see her. She held my hand and said if she dies I had to take her child with me. I scolded her for her childish behaviour. She requested me to spend a night there, but her in-laws did not let me so I came back. My daughter died during her delivery. Her daughter is one year old. I take care of her.‘ – Abu Mia (65)


My mother flew with me when my father wanted to make me disabled after my birth, so that he could use me for begging. I do not know, what my mother actually does; she sleeps the whole day and works at night when I sleep. We live in the street. Our neighbours and the police call me the ‘whore’s daughter’. Mom told me not to reply to them as bad people always talk bad. I am a flower seller. I sell flowers; I do not beg. But people have no time to look at flowers. I pop into the windows of big cars and see beautiful children with their parents. Sometimes I wonder, didn’t their dad want to sell their organs or want to make them disabled for begging? One day a rich mom bought all of my flowers for her girl but when the girl wanted to give me the money, her mom said not to touch me, I might have a disease. The baby girl threw the money in the air and I caught it. That day made me the best flower seller among all.’ – Lutfa

Aklima (1)

‘I started working as a labourer a year ago. Including me only ten females are working at this site. The constructor does not like to employ women. There are fifty men working besides us. They always get break time to drink tea or smoke cigarettes. But we, the female group never get any break. For almost a year the strongest man of our group is making fun of us every day. Sometimes he says, he can carry more buckets of stones than the women, even when he sleeps. The contractor laughed loudly at his jokes. And sometimes after transporting all buckets of stones he showed us his muscle and the men laughed at us. A week ago I asked our contractor to give us at least half an hour break. He mocked me, pointed to the macho man and openly declared, he will give women equal break time, if I or any other woman can beat the man the next day. I looked at our women’s group and they were looking at the ground. On my way back home, my little girl was warning me never to challenge a man. I asked her why, then my five-year-old girl fearfully showed me her muscle and told me, ‘We don’t have this.’ The next day, when I came to work I told them I was ready to take the challenge. When I started carrying the stone buckets beside our macho man, everyone stopped working and started clapping. It turned into some kind of game. I had no idea how time had passed. When the contractor asked me to stop I looked at the man beside me. He was lying on the ground, already very much exhausted. Then I saw, I transported fifty more buckets than him. When every woman was screaming in joy, I looked at my girl, she jumped into my chest. I did not say a word. I had to prove to my little girl that, women too have muscle but they do not like to show it.’ – Aklima


“I found out my daughter had an affair with a boy for five years. She never spoke about it as she is always afraid of me. Apart from that I assumed my children always hated me for the job I have been doing since my childhood. I asked her to bring the boy and his family to our house. I decorated the house like a new bride and brought the best food for them. I have been saving for my daughter’s marriage for twenty years. That day my daughter was the happiest ever. When they started the conversation they brought out a note of demand. They wanted all material things a family needs, I was calculating and nodded in agreement with every word they said. After all it’s about the happiness of my daughter. The last point was that they did not want me to be introduced in front of their relatives and I should never go to visit my daughter. The moment they said it my daughter screamed in anger and by surprising all she slapped the boy. She angrily said, ‘My father can do the thing that no one can do. Not everyone can clean others’ messes. I am proud of what he does and if you do not leave my house in one minute I will beat you all.’ She broke the marriage proposal and ended her five-year relationship in one second. From that day I knew what a fortunate and happy person I am.’ – Sweeper Monu lal




The Geometry of Love

With you
I feel like, I am wearing perfume in the middle of the desert.
With you
I am like, a nomad having a nameless home.

Ten Love stories shared from the series Heroes of Life; these are real love life experiences of the people portrayed here.

Featured first on my Facebook page:  GMB Akash


‘I got married at the age of twelve. My husband was twice my age. I cried the whole night by sitting on my wedding bed. He was embarrassed. He shyly said he would allow me to do whatever I wanted to do. He kept his promise. He brought me dolls to play with. But my in-laws did not like my freedom. They asked him to send me back to my parents. When their torture became intolerable, by holding my hands he left his parent’s house. Here, we built our heaven fifty years ago. I played with dolls and then with my five children. By fishing he earned a living for us. Every corner of our hut was built by him. I used to sit beside him, singing songs and he continued to repair our broken bamboo walls. One night he left me alone, he died in his sleep with a slight smile on his face. Our house was his existence for me. I used to touch the fence,the wall and could feel him there. During Aila, the flood washed away my hut. Now there is no sign of my home. Still I come here to find a sign of my existence, try to find him in my lost home’ – Saira Begum


‘She was four years older than me. She was black but more beautiful than a fairy. However, I had never paid attention to her face because her heart was so overwhelmingly beautiful to cherish. I have never seen someone caring like her in my life. If any woman of the village got sick she had to be there. In our village women hardly went to the hospital. Besides being a midwife, she used to always stay with all pregnant women. But in our conservative village, most of the people talked badly about her. No one was ready to marry her. I had fallen for this crazy girl from my childhood. One day I found the courage to tell it to my mother. Surprisingly, my mother fought with everyone to make Hasna her daughter-in-law. We knew that no one would attend our wedding but to our surprise the day we got married more than 100 women from different villages came to wish us well. I never knew she had provided education to all these women also. My wife died three years ago. We have no children. For me, her love was enough. After her death, I donated our only piece of land for establishing a girl’s school. I know she must be smiling from heaven.’ – Rohmot Miah



‘I was thirteen when we got married. I had never seen him before our marriage. When we first met, we were sitting like strangers, who had no idea what actually we could talk about. We hadn’t spoken a word even on our wedding day. I had never thought the man sitting beside me would slowly become the most important reason behind my life. There were days when my in-laws pushed him, asking him to remarry as I could not conceive after five years of our marriage. One day out of frustration, I packed all my belongings and wanted to silently go away from his life. That day, he cried to me, begged me not to leave him. That was the first day of my life when I first realized how lucky I am. It’s been sixty years that we have been with each other. We have always been just by ourselves. There are days when he cannot manage to bring anything from the bazaar, poverty has been always a part of our life. Both of us often fall sick. We are seeing each other grow old and slowly moving towards death. But we never felt alone, never felt our life was incomplete and in need of a child. During the rainy season, he goes fishing and I wait for him to come back. Sometimes, he tells me how much he is afraid of leaving me alone while he has to go fishing at night. Even today, we have no food in our home. And I have no idea when he can bring something for us. But right now, we are enjoying this winter sun, talking with each other about our old days. We know well, very soon one or both of us will die, and there will be no one to cry for us.’ – Saleha Begum




I move from places to places. From villages to villages. Everyone calls me beggar Kulsum. You can call me too. No one knows from where I have come from. I never tell anyone who am I. I had a mansion, surrounded by three ponds and four gardens. It was always hard to fall in sleep because the smell of the flowers was so strong at night. Often times I felt heaven is my home. And there was always my supportive husband. Every morning I prepared uncountable cakes for him and he never let me to wear same saree more than a few times. I never allowed my maids to clean our in-houses; they were responsible for only outhouse. I had passed forty seven years of our marriage life by making cakes, watering trees and wakening up at nights alone when he left for business in far places. I got married when I was ten; my husband was the only friend I had. I had passed my married life by making cakes and wondering at our beautiful gardens. My husband never let me feel alone in our child less life. I remained happy in his light. One day I went to see one of my sick maids, there I accidently met a woman who was wearing the same wedding bangle I had. Eventually by my maid I found out that my husband kept his second marriage secret from me for twenty years. There he had two daughters and a son. I spent my nights by looking at his face and realized how much he had loved me. May be every day he thought to leave me, may be in every festival he wanted to spend his time with his new family, maybe he felt guilt when I put my right hand every night on his chest. ..Because he had loved me and I was his only friend too. I wanted him to be happy without regret. I also wanted a happy memory of my very loving husband with our all ponds and gardens…I convinced one of my loyal maid to spread the news that I accidentally fell in river and swept away. She did it by the exchange of all my gold ornaments. You are talking to dead Umme Kulsum. She died twenty years ago. No one cried for her, neither I. Sometimes people ask me what they will do when I will die and what my last wish is. I said it to no one before you. If ever he arrives by searching me tell him I missed our home, gardens and him every single second of my life. But I wanted him to be free from my love. His happiness is what I wanted if required by my life. And I do not regret what I had done. Sometimes in love you have to leave.

– Umme Kulsum



‘I loved Surma before I knew how it felt to be in love. Her black skin was as beautiful as diamonds; even more beautiful was the depth of her black eyes. My uncle arranged our marriage suddenly while her village doctor father was on his death bed. Her father touched my hands and said, ‘Surma’s mother died when she was born. I was never able to give her the love she needed. I have failed as a father. Promise me, you will never fail as her husband.’ I promised him.

It was raining heavily, I was riding in my boat while my newlywed wife was sitting in the center of my boat with her world. There were her three kittens, one dog, five chickens and a goat. When we arrived at our house, my mother came out to perform some rituals to receive us. After looking at Surma and her belongings she fainted. With hesitation, on our wedding night when I asked her to send back all her animals she attacked me and with her hands she was beating on my chest like I was a drum. Before I understood anything my twelve year-old wife ran away into the jungle; all her animals fled with her. I spent my wedding night searching for my wife and her animals.

When we got married I had nothing, Surma changed every corner of my rundown hut. She was able to repair everything except my mother’s heart. One day I came from work and found her tied up with rope along with her cats, dogs and goats. I rushed to release everyone; she stopped me and said, ‘It’s my punishment. Do not disrespect amma and do not ask her any questions.’ I looked at my mother and she looked away. I was sure, Surma would be able to melt my mother’s heart. But it was too late. After ten years we had no children. One night Surma took my hand over her head and asked me to remarry. I could not control myself and slapped her. She attacked me and again disappeared into the jungle. I went to my mother and told her no one can force me to remarry while I still have life.

It was our ten-year anniversary of marriage. Again a monsoon. That day Surma was very calm and quiet. By looking at her smiling face, I reassured her, I will be only with her for the rest of my life and I could adopt all her animals as the father. She smiled through her deep black eyes. In the evening when I returned she was lying dead in my yard. Villagers had brought her from the river where they found her floating.

Sixty years has been passed. I am still alone, living with only my memories and animals. When my mother was dying she asked for my forgiveness. I couldn’t do it. My love will never forgive them: not my mother, not my Surma. I am still the man who sees those deep black eyes every night. Sometimes I go into the jungle and search for Surma, I want to bring her back to my life again. But she has gone far away; without knowing how much I loved her.’ – Abdul goni


‘My wife has a habit of snoring during her sleep. At night, only she sleeps. I stay awake and listen to her music. When she falls asleep she starts her tempo taxi. It goes up and down and then up again. This room is very humid and we do not have any fan. The window we have is the only source of ventilation. At night, I keep the window and the door wide open for some time so that air can enter into our room. The problem is, when Arju falls asleep, our neighbor starts yelling. She will shout and tell me, ‘Stop the earthquake or we will kick you both out of this slum.’ On this issue, I have had enough fighting with all our neighbors. Oftentimes I looked at her, wanted to wake her up but when I saw her sleeping so peacefully after a long working day, I just could not do it. At the end, I shut the door tightly and also the only window. I can sleep in humidity, with loud music, but I could never stop my tempo and ruin her peaceful sleep.’ – Textile worker Arju’s husband Liton



Sometimes I go to visit my ex-wife. I really do not have anyone else to go to. She does not allow me to stay more than a few minutes. Everyone says she is a very bad woman but I know how her circumstances were. I cannot blame her so easily. I was not able to buy her a saree for years. She had starved days after days with me. I heard her crying every night. We lost our only child because I didn’t have money for the treatment….

Now maybe she is happy. ..When I last visited her, she gave me sweets to eat. Now she keeps sweets in her new room since I visited her. Maybe she does not forget how much I love sweets… Life would have been so very different if I could have fed us and saved our child…

I can never hate her for leaving me or for choosing to be a prostitute. I was never able to curse her. For everyone she is a whore but for me she is still my Moina.’

– Komesh Mia (45)



‘I have not gone to work for two days. I have to stay with my wife. We do not have any mobile phone; what if she needs something? We live on an island; people have prejudices against going to the hospital. The boatman did not agree to take us at night when my wife was vomiting so much. Everyone including my parents tried to stop me from taking her to the hospital. But I could not sit silently when she was suffering that much. I navigated the boat at night alone and after facing great difficulty I admitted her into the hospital. This place was full of patients. The nurses told me to wait till they arranged a bed. But my wife was feeling very afraid; that’s why I was telling her one joke after another. I wanted to make her smile; when she smiles everything seems okay.’ – Tayeb Miah


I am a very sensitive guy and my wife is a spy. So, we fight more than we eat. Ask what I told her during a fight seven years ago, she will tell you in detail. Ask how she insulted me last night I cannot tell you a word. We have been married for seven years. I never spend a day without my family. Even when she cooks I sit beside her with our children. Yesterday all of us were very happy because we planned to go to watch a circus which was taking place near us. Then suddenly she told me how much she likes the new girl who had started working a few days ago. I said yes, that she is a very innocent girl. She asked, ‘really’? I nodded. And then we had a terrible fight. She stopped talking to me. I asked her a thousand times what I had done. She called over my daughter and asked her to tell me that I did nothing. After going to work she was ignoring me and started working on a different side. I cannot take it. I hate this spying but I cannot live without her nonsense.’

– Morshed & Moriyum



‘I saw her first at a village fair. She was eating sweets. I fell in love instantly. I fell in love when I was seventeen. My father was a farmer, so am I. She was the only girl from the respectable Mia Bari. I could not say anything to her as she belongs to a rich family. But I continued to follow her everywhere secretly and silently. In three years I did not say a word to her. Then a very good marriage proposal came for her and I knew that I had to watch her royal marriage helplessly. On the night of her engagement I cried my heart out sitting in my boat on the riverside near my house. Suddenly I saw someone running towards the boat and before I understood anything, she started rowing the boat. Even in my dreams, I never imagined something like that could happen in my life. The first thing she said to me was, ‘Stupid, you are very stupid.’ It’s been forty years she is calling me stupid every day. I am very happy to be stupid.’ – Makbul Mia ( 60)


A drop of your love got mixed in my cup

I could drink the bitters of life.




Innocent Feet

Shaheen (10 years old) does not feel badly anymore to walk with empty feet. Five months ago when he first started walking without sandals, broken pieces of glass and small sheets of tin oftentimes cut his feet. Sometimes when he would hop onto a running train to save himself from the station inspector, the damaged surface of the train’s step would injure his bare feet which caused him much suffering for some nights. In pain, he could not work for a few days. Nowadays, Shaheen thinks dirt layer surfaces for his feet are actually saving him from injuries.

Abu saleh

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When Shaheen’s mother was alive she used to put oil on his hands, legs and hair. Shaheen knew his mother well and if she could see him now, she would do it again. She had never beaten him ever. But after her death when the new mother arrived, she and his father used to beat him every night. Often he had to spend the night in the yard in front of the closed door of his father’s house. One morning last summer, Shaheen left his village and took the train which was coming to Dhaka. He no longer misses his past except for his mother.

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Shaheen (10)

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Emon Ali (12)



Now he carries the goods of passengers in the train station in bare feet. Even if he wishes to buy a pair of sandals, how will he manage money? And if he does manage to buy them, how will he safeguard them? Yesterday his friend Ismail’s new sandals were stolen and Ismail cried for the whole day. He had bought them with 150 taka by saving two days of income. Ismail now collects empty plastic bottles to sell in the recycle shop and has not spoken to anyone since he lost his sandals.



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Like Shaheen and Ismail, Shakil, Jahangir, Baii, Imon Ali, Arman, Emon, Fahim, hundreds of children are moving around in the train station in bare feet. All of them are living in the same condition. Some came here a few months ago and some came years ago.

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Alamin (8)

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Every one of them has two similarities. One is that they all walk the whole day in bare feet in order to earn bread and the other is the tragedy of their lives. Most of them left home because of the loss of their parents, or torture by their step parents, or because of acute poverty.

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With those small bare feet they used to run away by escaping the eyes of the station master or station police. When the trains arrive or passengers come, they run swiftly over the hot stoned train tracks and take a load on their heads. If they get 10 taka (one cent) they buy nuts for lunch and if they can earn more, they can have rice and lentils. This 7-12 year-old children’s feet are telling the tales of their fate: evidence that tells how they are bearing their lonely young lives on those innocent feet.

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 A question to humanity from a 11 year old Maruf:

‘No one cares for us. I cut my feet by broken piece of tin. It bleeds for days but no one stops and asks to help me. Like me hundreds of children are walking in bare feet and no one ever asks us if they can give a pair of slipper. Isn’t this a selfish world with cold hearted people.’



Can we together prove him wrong? Can you donate slippers for these street children and show them that we care about their suffering, their bare feet matters to us? Can we?

I am going to gift slippers to these street children on 7th January, 2016. If you want to donate for slippers please email at akashphoto@gmail.com you can donate slippers (size 33 – size 40) at our address; To know details you can also message me at facebook (facebook.com/gmbakash/).

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Lastly I hope my favorite quote will inspire you as much as it inspires me:

I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

sami hamja 10, mother died ,  father is a heroin addict

Sami Hamja

Smoke and Ashes

Rozina counts every day for six months running. Her family starts working long before the sun rises even when her small kids are remaining in the deepest sleep. She feels bad about calling them for work but like every day she cruelly has to do it. Everyone comes to have breakfast when the rice is still in the process of cooking. She rapidly waves her hand and lets the fire rise. During this time she quietly thinks about their time in the village that is far far away from this isolated brick field. She recalls her abandoned home and acutely feels a need to see the village sooner. But her urge quickly vanishes when she also remembers those days of starvation. Jalil sleeps in the bed that is made by gathering brick after brick. Rozina tried to hide those bricks by a flowery bed cover. Razina and Jalil have been married for ten years. Along with their five-year daughter and six year old son her family comes to work in this brick filed for six months in every year. 

Five years old Sadia is working in the brick field for first time. Along her, seven members of the family are serving in the brick field to repay their loan. Sadia’s job is to dry 5000 bricks every day. For such seven days work she weekly gets 250 taka ($3). Sadia who once used to be naughty now hardly talk. She only smiles when after working she finishes collecting coal for her family.

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akash (6)The houses that have been built by brick field owners are home to 100 brick field workers’ families. Just like Rozina they are living in hope of returning to their village one day. No one decorates their house. If a family buys any new item it goes into a box and it remain there until they get a final call to go back to their real home in the village. Rozina’s red bangles, her daughter’s new shoes, boy’ toy; everything goes into the trunk. She also keeps some precious things of her mother-in-law who dies last year from tuberculosis. Everyone says her mother-in-law died because she worked in the brick filed. Rozina does not believe it. Once the whole family strived for three days and no one died that time. Death is written by fate. This brick field is a way for them to survive; a way to feed themselves and their children.

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The sound of songs awakens the brick field locality. The brick field workers start working. They are used to listening to songs from their mobile phones. The rhythm of the songs motivates them to work. Rahmat Miah has been working in brick field for seventeen years. The day he started understanding life he found himself in the brick field. During childhood he used to help his father for transferring bricks or lining the piles. Till today he does not do any work other than working in brick field. After carrying 5000 bricks he can manage to earn 200 taka for doing the bazaar shopping for his family. Sometimes he could save a little amount after cutting all costs. But his body does not help him much. Every month he has to take leave for 4-5 days because of illness then he has to spend out of that precious savings for food or medicine.

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Men, women and children everyone remains busy in the brick field. Sometimes when the sun goes up in the overhead a few older men or women fall to the ground. Then they get an hour break. They have to carry or shift or line up 5000-10000 bricks every day. However they loudly chat in a half an hour break. They smoke and talk about the economy and the politics. Women generally rest in silence and sometimes go to their quarters to do quick house chores. Children work continuously. It seems that working is some kind of important game. Small Minara who is just four years old collects coal from the brick field. Why does she collect coal? After a long silence she replies boldly, ‘This is my job’.

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During the one hour lunch break they eat a lot. Three plates of rice and lentil is their daily lunch menu. Men who are living with their families eat with them; those who came alone to the brick field eat in groups of men. A few go to take a quick nap. This is a kind of moment when they will not speak or hear a single word. All are tired, very very tired. Life goes on; work starts again after break.

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Smoke and ashes blow everywhere. Workers’ bodies turn black in smoke and ashes and their feet turn black like coal. Still they continue to work in a dreamless brick field. In the middle of this Rozina dreams to go back to her village. Rahmat tries hard to save a few pennies, the children continue to collect coal. Very Far from the town the workers of the brick field continue to work to build our urban world.

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The Pride of Hijab

The wearing of the *hijab reflects the modern Muslim woman’s independence, her new world attitude in which she has a choice in whether she follows this old tradition or not. Her hijab displays her confidence to live life on her own terms and communicates the message that she is respected, intelligent and a pious person in her culture. She is also purposefully not drawing attention to herself vis-à-vis the male population in certain Muslim countries such as Bangladesh.

Beside religious value, this piece of folded head scarf can tell much about a woman. So, what does your hijab say about you? The colour, the style, the adornments, if any, all reflect the individual. There could be stripes or flowers that represent the softness, the brightness. These choices allow a woman to express who she is. The hijab sends clear signals about a Muslim woman and her personality. The increasing trend of wearing stylish hijabs or head scarves among young females in Bangladesh is not all about fashion nor has it been imposed upon them by Muslim parents or family. I have interviewed a hundred young Bangladeshi women and have compiled their opinions in order to know what has most inspired them to wear the hijab.

‘When I started hijab I wasn’t sure I could continue it or not. In summer time it is very hot in Bangladesh and traveling by bus become very hard for the weather. In the beginning it was very difficult but I have seen respect for me in eyes of people as a hijabi girl. I will continue to wear hijab’ – Adiba

‘I have been suffering from bad hair. After wearing hijab it has reduced. Hijab has brought a lot of change in my look also. I am feeling new. My family says it will protect me too’ – Jannatul Ferdous

The answers of these women I interviewed surprised me. Eighty percent of the women are wearing a hijab willingly just to protect themselves from evil eyes. For them this is a self-defense mechanism. Does that mean that all of the men of the country are behaving in threatening ways? Not exactly. But women who are wearing hijabs expressed that in adverse environments such as walking through the streets alone or traveling by public transportation, men used to stare at them inappropriately. The hijabi women said they have the courage to cover up themselves and still continue to walk on the same road with dignity. Many of these girls said, a Muslim girl would not entertain a man in the street by wearing see-through, distasteful dresses. Her ‘hijab’ is her message to the world to see women who are modest, decent human beings with dignity.

Saleha Nur

nahid haque

A few said straightforwardly, that they cannot close an ill-minded man’s eyes or his mouth but they can cover up themselves. When a man looks at a hijabi woman they see nothing but a message. That is, she is a Muslim girl and her life is ruled by Islam where there is no place for vulgarism. Her hijab is simply a reflection of her dignity.
What has inspired Bangladeshi young women to wear hijabs? Although many women were hesitant and some even refused to reveal their motives because I am a man, the following courageous women explained their reasons for wearing hijabs.

Juthi, a student

‘My hijab is my protection from all those evil eyes around me. The hijab is a message to wicked men that they no longer can stare at me rudely when I am on the road.’ – Juthi, student

‘As a NGO worker I have to travel a lot in public transport and sometime I come to home at late night. My hijab is my protection. It’s been 6-7 years I am covering myself as I had bitter experience of street harassment. Men used to look at women as if they are raping through eyes. As a woman I felt vulnerable and weak tough I used to wear modest cloth. But I have to confess from the day I started wearing Hijab men started to look at me less. I felt strong from inside’ – Siuly, NGO worker

‘As a NGO worker I have to travel a lot on public transport and sometimes I come home late at night. My hijab is my protection. It’s been 6-7 years that I have been covering myself as I had a bitter experience of street harassment. Men used to look at me and other women as if they were raping us through their eyes. As a woman I felt vulnerable and weak even though I used to wear modest clothes. But I have to confess that from the day I started wearing a hijab, men started to look at me less. I felt strong inside.’ – Siuly, NGO worker

‘I am a housewife. I feel very good after I wear hijab. Even when I look at girls who wear hijab seems very respectable to me. It is one kind of self protection and my aim is to follow footsteps of pious Muslim women’ – Jesmin, housewife

‘I am a housewife. I feel very good after I wear a hijab. Even when I look at girls who wear hijabs it seems very respectable to me. It is one kind of self-protection and my aim is to follow footsteps of pious Muslim women’ – Jesmin, housewife

Jinat jahan 12I study in class five. My mother tells me that my hijab will protect me. Also in the Islamic religion women have to cover their bodies’ – Jinnat Jahan (12 years old)


‘It’s been two months since I started wearing a hijab. I feel encouraged by so many girls nowadays wearing hijabs. Two out of five girls are wearing hijabs. For me it brings peace as my family often remains tense when I am out of the home. The hijab is my protection from all evil looks.’ – Kasfia

Jinath rehana sheuli

‘In Islam it’s mandatory for women to cover their bodies with veils. Islam gives women a respectful place in society. Since childhood I have been wearing a hijab. It has impacted my life as it is not only about folding a cloth and covering the body but it also encourages a woman to stand up and move with dignity. Because from the heart I know I am not only covering my body but also not letting men look at me badly. I believe it gives women respect.’ – Jinath Rehana Sheuli

‘As a student I have to travel everyday from home to university. After doing hijab for two years I face less eve teasing and it has given me a sense of good feeling that I am maintaining my life in the light of Islam’ – Laboni

‘As a student I have to travel every day from home to university. After wearing a hijab for two years I face less evil teasing and it has given me a sense of good feeling that I am maintaining my life in the light of Islam.’ – Laboni

Liza‘I started wearing a hijab religiously. No one has asked me to do it but I feel I should do it and it brings me respect.’ – Liza

Mumu a student

‘You can look stylish as a modern Muslim woman when you wear a hijab. It gives me protection and also makes a woman look very beautiful in a hijab.’ – Mumu, a student


‘Some girls wear hijabs in order to get a good marriage proposal or they just to do it to be in style. But for me it has come from inside. When I did not wear a hijab I experienced men who looked at women as if they were a product on the road and could eye them over any way they wanted. I have seen ill-meaning men’s expressions while on the road. But since the day I started wearing a hijab I have never faced such vulgar looks any longer. My hijab is my safety and self-respect.’

– Muna, school teacher


‘Dhaka is a very busy city though a few women travel by bus. Whenever I went outside I faced the problem that men used to look at me badly. I started feeling very angry and did not know what to do. My friend started wearing a hijab a couple of months ago and advised me to also wear a hijab. After wearing a hijab I am mentally satisfied that at least I am not showing my body to people. If they still try to see me, it is their ill behavior.’ – Lima


I am in the last semester of my MBA. I have been wearing a hijab for six years now. It wasn’t for any reason of fashion nor for conservatism. Islam encourages women to wear decent clothes and commands them to cover their heads and bodies when they go out in public. I easily can move around as I feel safe in a hijab.’ – Nahid Haque


‘As a student I have to come out of my home every day. It is very difficult to manage time to get ready. When I am wearing a hijab it helps me to get ready easily. Also my family does not have to worry about me much as girls who wear hijabs face less teasing in the street.’ – Tania

Tajnuva‘Many girls are wearing hijabs for fashion. But this should not be. A hijab is to protect you from evil eyes. The girls who are very open and show their bare skin in public are seeking attention from men. But a hijabi girl is beautiful because she realizes her inner beauty more than her outer beauty.’ – Tajnuva


‘A girl can wear a hijab and still be beautiful. It gives us protection and respect.’ – Sharmin

Sniya Sultana , a student

‘From my teenage years I have been wearing a hijab. It is part of being beautiful. In some universities in Dhaka a full veil is not allowed, so I choose a hijab. It is comfortable and always protective.’ – Sania Sultana, a student

‘I am teacher and doing hijab for three years. I do not support girls who are doing ti for style or take it as fashion. It remains as women protector for hundreds of years. Women felt comfort and it brings security for a decent girl who does not want to show bare skin. Some people argue a woman should not do hijab as it makes them look weak, but I completely disagree. It needs courage in a world of style where owmen tend to wear short clothes. Its Muslim women’s dignity who cover up their body and go for searching respect than seeking attention’ – Simul, Teacher‘I am a teacher and have been wearing a hijab for three years. I do not support girls who are doing it for style or who use it as fashion. It has remained as a protector for women for hundreds of years. Women feel comfortable and it brings security for a decent girl who does not want to show bare skin. Some people argue a woman should not wear a hijab as it makes them look weak, but I completely disagree. It takes courage in a world of style where women tend to wear short clothes. Its dignified Muslim women who cover up their bodies and go searching for respect rather than seeking attention.’ – Simul, teacher

subarna parvin 28, school teacher

‘I believe in modesty. It’s been three years since I have been wearing a hijab. For me it is a self-defense as it has protected me from evil eyes. I am a Muslim and a married working woman. Since the day, I started wearing a hijab I noticed that men in the streets were not bothering me insistently. It has given me a sense of dignity and I started seeing respect in people’s eyes for me. When I cannot stop evil eyes at least I can cover up myself and follow the advice that my religion gives me.’ – Subarna Parvin (28 years old), teacher

Tajlima akter

‘I have been wearing a hijab for more than eight years. My mother, grandmothers all wore hijabs or veils. It is not about style or fashion. It is mandatory for a Muslim woman to wear a hijab.’ – Tajlima Akter


‘Muslim women can be stylish like Western girls. For that there is no need to show skin. I feel a hijab makes a girl more beautiful. Not only does it protect the dignity of the girl, but it also it protects hair and skin.’ – Papia

‘Everyday more girls are doing hijab. It’s a protection from sunlight and pollution. By doing hijab I am covering my hair and wearing decent clothes. I feel very much protected since the day I am wearing hijab’ – Pihu‘Everyday more girls are wearing hijabs. It’s a protection from sunlight and pollution. By wearing a hijab I am covering my hair and wearing decent clothes. I feel very much protected since the day I started wearing a hijab.’ – Pihu

(*what is a  Hijab – a veil that covers the head and chest, which is often worn by Muslim women beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family as a form of modest attire.)


‘Chain of Love’

Life was never easy for Jarina Begum. During childhood she lost her parents in the Kamplapur railway station. She had no memory of her childhood. Lonely Jarina’s struggle never takes a break. After living here and there at the age of twelve, people from her locality gave her a marriage with Ismail. She knew nothing about family life though she started to dream. A few years went well. This was the best time of her life. But when her only son died at the age of twelve her family was shattered. Her husband got involved in drugs. Her happiness lost in darkness. She again gets back her hope during her second pregnancy. ‘Mali’ arrives as an angel in her life. She started dreaming about having a normal life again. But fate was not on Jarina’s side. She discovered when Mali was two years old that she is mentally disabled. Also when Mali was two Jarina’s husband died from taking  excess drugs. Till today ‘Disabled Mali’ is the reason to live Jarina’s Life.

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Now Jarina is only Mali’s maa. Mali behaves like a child at the age of thirteen. She has very slow mental growth. Jarina has to connect her to a chain so that she cannot flee alone while her mother went to work. She was lost twice while Jarina went to work. The tragedy of Jarina losing her own parents is like a nightmare for her. She does not want to lose Mali again. After finding her, she found a way to keep Mali at their place. She chained her with a long chain. She goes to work in the morning and works madly while feeling the tension of Mali. She collects paper from the road. She carefully crosses the road everyday as she knows if she died there is no one for Mali. With cloudy eyes Jarina said, ‘I put a chain on her leg and put a stone in my heart’. While she was saying this, Mali untied her pajama bottoms and squatted to do her toilet. Jarina swiftly wnt there and covered her daughter with a cloth. Mali is Jarina’s world.

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Jarina dreams one day Mali will be okay. Sometimes she gets upset thinking, if Mali could be like other girls, she could help her with earning a living; she could understand how hard it is to work feverishly. But Mali understands nothing. She can only feel the touch of love, the smile of affection. When Jarina ties her hair Mali gives kisses on her mother’s cheeks. When Jarina is feeding her, Mali takes some rice and puts in her mother’s mouth. They have nothing; no home, and no furniture and no utensils with which to cook. This mother and daughter have only love that is sheltering them so far.

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As street people, Jarina and Mali have nothing. They only possess a few household materials that Jarina ties up and hides in a neighbor’s place because Mali cannot take care of anything while her mother goes to work. The neighbors of Jarina help her when she goes to work. They look out for Jarina if someone comes to disturb disabled Mali. The neighbor Kalpona said, ‘There is no one for this mother and daughter. They are living for each other. We see no one like Jarina who is doing this much for Mali. We pray for their happiness.’

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Jarina Begum has now only one dream in life: to educate Mali in order to give her a normal life and to see her as an able person. Jarina pointed at the pen and drawing paper of Mali and said, ‘If there is any heartfelt person who could admit her to a school for the disabled then I can I die in peace’. While embracing Mali, Jarina lastly said, ‘Pray for us so that we, the mother and daughter, can die together. Why is life so painful?’

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‘Orange Generation’

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I grew up seeing my ancestors’ orange beards or hair. It is so common in our culture that I was hardly curious to know why older Muslim people colour their hair, beards or moustaches. With time I learned and found out that it was very natural to know  about the importance of henna in Muslim Culture.


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But for the first time I realized and wanted to know about the real motivation of different individual Muslim men and women for dyeing their grey hair. The first time I started asking the question was when many of my foreigner friends asked me about it frequently during their visits in Bangladesh. Then I started noticing that this colour is making this older generation different. So I started asking the Muslim older generation why they colour their grey beards or hair and what is it that they are so fond of?

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This series consists of portraits of men and women in Bangladesh who have dyed their hair or their beard using the orange-red colour produced by the flowering Henna plant. They shared with me why they use this henna in particular. It’s very common in Bangladesh to see one older person in five old people with orange hair (male or female), and men with orange beards or orange moustaches.

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During Ramadan dying hair or beards is a very common practice as Henna dying comes from religious beliefs too. It has been believed that the Prophet Muhammad (SM) dyed his beard and hair as well. Some men and women who have returned from the Haaj, the Islamic pilgrimage also practice Henna dying. Not only in Bangladesh, but many Muslims across all continents apply Henna dye and coat their hair to get this bright coloured look.

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For those who did not reference religion as playing a role in their decision to color their hair, they consider it admirable to do so. They believe, Henna covers their head and body and makes them look good in their old age. Therefore, for some other elderly people, especially women, Henna is mostly used as a cosmetic thing for their grey hair.  A lot of men also see a red beard as preferable to a grey or white beards.  Besides this reason many older persons usually follow this practice for cultural or traditional reasons, as they saw that older generations always prefer henna dying.

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Why did you use Henna dye?

Answers of question:

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‘I am not old. We all eat polluted food and that causes hair loss and greying is faster. Henna helped to hide my grey hair. Grey means old’ – Mohamaad Sagir

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‘It’s our Sunnat. Our Prophet Muhammad used it’ – Gias Uddin

abdul majid

‘Henna helps to clam down my head and body. I dye my hair every month.’ – Abdul Majid

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‘I use henna dye because I love to do it. What else!’- Yusuf Haulader

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‘I love color more than grey. It’s my fashion. Ha ha ha’ – Mohammad Oli


‘It distinguishes Muslim. It is our culture’ – Obaidullah


‘Who likes grey hair? I want to be young. Ha ha ha’ – Kashem

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‘Most of my friends do henna dying. For the last two years I am doing it also’ – Gias Uddin


‘Since I have come from the Haaj I started applying Henna to my hair. It has religious value’- Abdul Samad

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‘Not only have I, but my wife has dyed her hair to hide the grey. Both of us want to remain young. Ha ha ha’ – Abdul Kader

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‘It’s our tradition, our Muslim tradition’ – Amina

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‘My grandfather did it, my father did it and now I am doing it. All older Muslim people love to practice this generation after generation.’ – Mohammad Alam


‘Feet tell stories’

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Brick field labouer’s feet tell their tales. Thousands of men, women and children continue tolling in the open brick fields. Their muddy clothes, smudged coal colored skins and bare feet tell the tale about how everyday they are fighting to live a life. I continue to search their stories of struggle about how their hope transform into despair. Once a labourer stopped me to take his portrait and asked me to take an image of his feet and said, ‘Show our feet. It’s enough to explain what we are up to.’

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Under the baking hot tropical sun, Moriyum (7 years old) continues to collect coals in the most perilous conditions even though everyone goes to lunch. Just after shifting 1000 bricks to dry in the sun, Moriyum’s brother Mohsin (9 years old) also goes to lunch. But Moriyum continued to collect coal for her family.

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Working children are a common sight at the brickworks as they regularly employ entire families – who oftentimes make their homes on site. Education is a luxury for Bangladesh’s rural poor with children often earning their keep as soon as they can walk. Ranging in age from young children to grandparents, they work long hours to mix out millions of bricks to fuel construction boom that shows no signs of abating. The high chimneys of brick fields are snot only pouring grey smoke into the air but also blowing it into labourer’s lungs. All of the brick fields are located along rivers. Millions of bricks are burned here. Almost all bricks are made using a 150-year-old technology. Soil is mixed with water, formed into bricks using wooden forms, then left to dry in the sun before being burned in traditional kilns. The process is done almost entirely by hand.

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Kohinoor who was balancing the heavy loads atop her head said, ‘We work like slaves. And we die like slaves.’ Kohinoor’s mother-in-law died last year while working in the brick filed. Another woman who has worked a decade in the field was badly suffering from tuberculosis and headaches. Kohinoor added, ‘We know we will die by working here, but we have no option.’

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Brick-making provides a better income than agriculture or other jobs available in rural Bangladesh, but it is dangerous and often devastating to workers’ health. Accidents are common and workers have no protective gear except save for what they are able to cobble together themselves. 

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By balancing the heavy loads atop their heads, workers must carry the raw mud to the brick making area are where skilled artisans shape it using brick moulds filled by hand. However, the millions of workers who make the bricks face harsh and uncertain conditions. Brick field labourer Makbul said, ‘Everything tastes like mud. I taste mud in my mouth, tongue, throat everywhere.’ By showing the feet of Makbul’s friend, Jasim said, ‘We are brick human. We have feet like coal.’

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Like Makbul and Jashim, hundreds of men come with their families during the brick session in the brick fields. They made their temporary shelter near the brick field in the place given by the brick field owner. The mud house’s bed is made by brick after brick and then putting plastic over the bricks where they rest and sleep. They took loan from the brick field owner which and continue to pay it back by giving labour with full family. Small children of each family works to dry thousands of brick every day. For drying 1000-5000 bricks a child gets 25-50 taka daily. That also goes into the pocket of father for buying food for the family. The Father and mother of each family go to work before sun rise. They carry 12-16 bricks each weighting 2.5kg. For a twelve-hour workday during which an average worker carries about five thousand bricks, he earns Tk. 80 after his expenses are paid. This means toiling 12 hours a day for a daily wage of 120 taka (USD 1.70) for men and 100 taka (USD 1.40) for women.

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Still they hope for a better life and perhaps dream of happiness. During his break, after lighting a cigarette Motahar said, ‘My wife often asks me to take her to the cinema. We have no money left after basic shopping at the bazaar and paying loans. But she managed to save and bought an old phone for me. Now while I work, I listen to songs.’

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(Brick fields are not only causing suffering for labourer but for the environment also. Bangladesh is hit harder than almost any other country in the world by climate change despite emitting very little greenhouse gases. But still the emissions from the brick kilns hurt the environment. Brick kilns are the leading cause of air pollution in the country. There are about 5000 brick kilns in Bangladesh, which are largely responsible for air pollution. Dust from the brick-making sites spreads in the wind to nearby towns and villages clogging the lungs of young and old and generates health problems that the country is ill-equipped to handle. The chimneys continue to poison labourer lives and as well as letting the environment to suffer in silence)


Women of Worth

“Sometimes the strongest women are the ones who love beyond all faults, cry behind closed doors, and fights battles that nobody knows about. This blog post is dedicated to honour women who are living at the edge of the society and continue their fighting to earn food and dignity, who merely ever come in the world’s limelight; even the society they are living have never appreciated their bravery. I have met with many of them, discovered closely how women have worked for the greater good and brought about change in their families and society. This is a way to tribute to a mother, sister, wife, daughter, friend and the many roles she plays in life. These personalities have made me understand that nothing can kill the spirit of a woman and that makes her incredibly beautiful” – GMB Akash

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Many women have broken away from tradition, knowing fully it leads a tough road to walk/ www.akash-images.com

Women at work (2)Be fearless/ www.akash-images.com

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A woman cannot be free until she is financially free/www.akash-images.com

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Each time a woman stand up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women/ www.akash-images.com

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In diversity there is beauty and there is strength/ www.akash-images.com

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Success isn’t measured by your wins, it’s the size of the challenges you overcame/ www.akash-images.com

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Living life on the edge with dream/ www.akash-images.com

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The strongest actions for a woman is to love herself, be herself and shine amongst those who never believed she could/ www.akash-images.com

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Dreams don’t work unless you do/ www.akash-images.com

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You have to do what is right for yourself; nobody else is walking in your shoes/ www.akash-images.com

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Be an encourager/ www.akash-images.com

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When a woman wants she can become an unstoppable force/ www.akash-images.com

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Nothing can dim the light that shines from within/ www.akash-images.com

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 Don’t let anyone stop you from your goals, dreams and true happiness/ www.akash-images.com

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Yesterday is nothing more than a lesson. Today is who you are/ www.akash-images.com

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Be yourself. Life is what you make of it/ www.akash-images.com

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There’s nothing damnable about being a strong woman. The world needs strong women/ www.akash-images.com

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Don’t let anyone to dull your sparkle/ www.akash-images.com

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Never ask the question, can I do it? Just go with ‘I will do it’. Your determination will always take you a long way to your dream, so hold on to it/ www.akash-images.com

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She is the best when you believe in herself/ www.akash-images.com

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 You are the force of nature/ www.akash-images.com

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Follow your heart to be the best that you can be/ www.akash-images.com

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Courage may be the most important of all virtues, because without it one cannot proactive any other virtue with consistence/ www.akash-images.com

Women today are now coming into their own. They are their own heroes. The power to change their lives lies within them. However well accomplished a woman may be she takes on guilt and responsibility far more easily than a man does. She is conditioned to believe that everyone and everything is her responsibility. Sometimes, she forgets that she has a responsibility towards herself. Accept and love yourself because there is just one YOU!


Train Track Life

Suddenly the inter-city train appears rushing at them on the tracks with its deadly noise which is the only thing that alerts the people. The scene includes a train that seems to be traveling as if to arrive at the slum but then ruthlessly goes right through it. It watches and touches both sides of the slum’s tin-roofs. Who could have ignored such g-o-t-a-n-g, g-o-t-a-n-g sound that raises heartbeats of the inhabitants of the Karwan Bazaar train track Slum in Dhaka on a daily basis… at least fifty times a day?

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People speculate that this train track-side slum had been built after the Liberation War of 1971. Though the slum does not seem too old, several inhabitants say that they have been living recklessly here for more than thirty years. Moreover, on both sides of the curvy train tracks that are lined with 1’000s of shanties, more than a hundred huts have been built in more recent times. Some of the smallest huts with only three foot high roofs rent for as much as 2000 taka (About $25). Those houses that are newly built with heights for standing-up cost 3000 taka (About $39) for a month.

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The muddy train tracks are loaded with wastage and leftover rotten vegetables. During an ordinary mid-day women are busy preparing lunch with difficulty trying to manage their mud clay oven cookers set up only one foot from the rail. When a train passes through anybody from the train could take away the potatoes that Marium Begum (35 years old) is frying in the pan. Marium says, ‘my eldest daughter is ten years old and I taught her how to save herself when the train rushes to our hut’. Marium clearly knows how much distance is safe for her two small kids. All children of the slum are well taught how to run away when a train arrives on the tracks. But a lot of times trains come simultaneously on both tracks and terrify the children. It happens many times from day to night without prior warning.

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Accidents are common and dangers are unlimited. The banyan tree root that grows from the hut of Kahinur is losing its leaves because many passengers who are riding on the tops of the moving trains are picking off the leaves for fun. It also amuses the slum children who have little to do. In this impossibly tiny strip of living space a lot of children lose their legs, hands and fingers in train accidents that take place in front of their parents’ eyes.

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Jaleha Kahtun says, ‘If we had something in which to live in the village, we would never come to live in this train track slum. In the village the river overflowed and took away everything and now here in the bazaar is everything we own.’ Jaleha Kahtun is a rotten vegetable seller in the bazaar. She has to go to work at 5:00 in the morning. So she lives in this slum that enables her to go to the bazaar as early as possible. All of the people who are living along the train tracks are climate migrants due to frequent flooding disasters in the country.

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Nothing has changed in their lives since they left their villages, but now at least they can feed themselves better. Sriti (15 years old) who is sitting in the middle between the two rail lines says, ‘We now understand how to act when a train comes. If you were in my place you might die without knowing where to go after seeing a train three feet in front of you. It takes experience.’

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When there are no trains all of the inhabitants are sitting on the train tracks, gossiping or arguing with each other. Children are playing here and there. To add some life to this atmosphere someone repeatedly turns on the music of popular Hindi songs. When Rasel (10 years old) starts dancing by waving his lungi and mimicking the song ‘Lungi dance’, Lungi dance,’ people near him also begin to move their bodies to the melody. But before Rashel shows his brilliant steps someone screams that the trains are coming on both sides of the rail lines. Nobody forgets to take their sitting arrangement away with them; children quickly move with their toys, a grandmother rapidly puts a pot over her vegetable curry to save it from the dust. Just like in a theater the trains get a stage upon which to perform for a few seconds and when they leave, all of the inhabitants return to their customary life on the tracks that have been occupied for more than 30 years.

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‘Smoky World’

The suffocation is unbearable in the dark. The smoke is so intense that you cannot breathe for a few seconds. When you will be able to see something then you will realize that hundreds of people are working attentively. Suddenly you will hear the sound of coughing by some small kids; very soon you will be discovering that half of the people working in the area are children, as young as they can be. The faster they work the more they get paid. But their production rarely increases and their payment remains in the same range: 100-150 taka daily for 12-16 hours of work. Still, all of them are continually trying to do the only job they know.

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Most of the poor villagers are dependent on this job. Small kids sometimes forget their surroundings and start to talk to each other. Parents swiftly scold them or punch them in their arms. Again the kids start to work and fill the local cigarettes (Biri). They know well that there is no value in talking but there is value in working. Children can deliver a quality production because their soft hands help them to do that without any wastage.

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These children learned the cruel reality of life first and then they learned work. They know feeding themselves is more important than going to school. ‘They cannot live with an empty stomach but they can live with an empty brain’, a parent biri maker said. Sojol echoed his father’s statement by saying, ‘I want to go to school. But school is for rich people. ‘

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Rani always feels a burning sensation in her eyes. While she is filling the cigarette she often touches her allergic eyes with her finger, which causes irritation and tears fall the whole day. Rani does not like to make biri, but she has been doing this work for three years.

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‘What are you making?’ the question was for Bablu, a nine-year old kid who innocently replied, ‘Biri..it causes illness. ’What illness?’ He again promptly replied, ‘Cancer.’ ‘From where did you heard that?’, with a brighter smile he added, ‘Television’.

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Workers toil at a hand rolled cigarette (locally called a biri) factory in Haragach. Workers have to labour from dawn to dusk making biris filled with tobacco flakes, earning very little money and in hazardous conditions which can damage their health. Children who work at the factory work from 9am to 8pm every day and are only paid 50 Taka (GBP 0.45) for making 5000 biris.

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Info Ladies – Women Heroes of Rural Bangladesh

Women have to go beyond any boundaries they might have set for themselves. Thinking something that a woman can’t do because that particular thing is a man’s domain, is where she is restricting herself! Women have incredible power. Just inspiration can help them to grow their dreams. As a photographer every day I am capturing woman’s battles, voices, dreams and triumphs. By putting light on their lives and dreams I would like to tell stories that the world should know about! Welcome all of you to the heroic world of INFO Ladies of Bangladesh!

The Info Ladies cover many miles on their journeys from village to village. With their bicycles and laptops, the Info Ladies of Bangladesh bring the world a sense of independence from one village to the next. This has changed the country, and their lives, too. The young women have become role models for a whole generation.

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The Info Ladies cover many miles on their journeys from village to village/www.gmb-akash.com

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The meetings in the villages are free, with a charge for some services/www.gmb-akash.com

Sathi is the most successful Info Lady in the Gaibandha district. Between banana trees and flood swamps, she has opened an info shop in her home village Jarabarsha. A banner in front of the shop rattles in the wind. It reads: “We are independent because we are Info Ladies.”

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The Info Lady is wearing her info lady uniform, a blue cape and pink trousers. Amid the dark green landscape, she shines like a ladybird on a dandelion leaf/  www.gmb-akash.com

The corrugated iron on the roof shines more brightly than anywhere else in the area. A table mounted on the trunk of a tree lists all the services Sathi offers. Sathi offers Skype calls, online bank transfers, online university application assistance, digital camera rentals, mobile phone ringtone downloads and photography services. She gives pregnancy tests, measures diabetics, takes blood pressure, identifies blood type and even sells underwear for women. Recently she opened her pre-primary school with a vision to create an example for the village.


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Sathi in her info shop which provides for her whole family/ www.gmb-akash.com

Sathi is a 24 year-old petite woman with a barely perceptible smile and deliberate movements. When a man pushes his broken mobile phone across the counter, she unscrew the lid of the phone, fumbles around with the speakers for a few seconds with a metal pin and declares: “it’s broken, I will order a new one,” without expecting any rejection. Sathi has a scar with six stitches on her right ankle from a fall from her bicycle when she still had problems keeping her balance. She proudly shows the scar. Laughing loudly while explaining how difficult it was to convince her father about bicycle riding, she says, “I learned the basics of computers in three days, but it took months to convince my father to let me ride a bicycle.” But now she has changed the financial face of her family. In nearly three years of this job she built new house and renovated the old shop which is now the famous info shop.

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Sathi has to go from village to village to give her services. On that humid day Sathi repeatedly grabs the corner of her pink dupatta and wipes sweat off her face. She is wearing her Info Lady uniform, a blue cape and pink trousers. Amid the dark green landscape, she shines like a ladybird on a dandelion leaf. Sathi cycles past men in waist-deep water. The men stop their work for a moment and look up. Sathi nods in greeting. When she finally arrives in the village, she rings her bicycle bell three times, and women immediately start crowding around her.

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An Info Lady is a nurse, mail carrier, fashion consultant, farmer, photographer, psychologist – all in one.

A short while later the women they roll out fabric bags to sit on and Sathi shows them a film about feeding infants. Then in a firm voice, she repeats every single fact: “You need to wash your breast before you breast-feed your baby. You do not need milk powder from the store; your breast milk is perfectly fine until the fifth month. After this, pay attention to adequate amounts of calcium and proteins. Have you all seen which foods contain these substances?” The women, some twice as old as Sathi, look at her. Their silent glances show how much respect they feel for someone so knowledgeable.

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The meetings in the villages are free, with a charge for some serviceswww.gmb-akash.com

Sathi’s working day ends with accounting. Using a computer programme, she notes every cent she earns. The group meetings are free, but a digital passport photo costs 10 cents, a blood pressure measurement costs 5 cents. Sathi has earned the equivalent of 2.60 Euros – a moderate day’s income. Last month, her income totaled 133 Euros. By comparison, a farmer in the district of Gaibandha earns about 60 Euros a month.

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Many young women resist the opposition of their parents when they become Info Ladies. Sathi’s mother is different. She says: “All women bear children, but not all give birth to children as important as this one”

In a country where less than a quarter of the population uses the Internet and where access is both slow and expensive, Bangladesh’s ‘Info Ladies’ offer a series of vital services to people living in remote, rural parts of the country. The “Info Ladies” project was launched in 2008 by a local non-governmental organisation called D.net. The same organisation had previously sent so-called “mobile ladies” through Bangladesh – young women with mobile phones, who enabled the inhabitants to communicate with people outside their village. When most inhabitants eventually owned a mobile phone, the Info Ladies were launched. They now offer mobile Internet, in a country with 152 million people, of whom five million have access to the worldwide web. D.net works together with local organisations to implement the project. In Gaibandha district, the NGO Udayan is involved. The name translates as “the resurrection”. The Info Ladies are trained for several weeks in the barracks of Udayan.


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In the rainy season, the Info Ladies cross the water on hastily cobbled together rafts or bridgeswww.gmb-akash.com

A Bangladeshi Info Lady is not just a woman with a laptop; she’s an entrepreneurial businesswoman bringing isolated people a piece of the world with valuable information and services. Info Ladies managed to change the perspective of villagers in many ways. Dohrmina, a village elder, now gives advice to the youth that would have been unthinkable in her day. She says: go to school, secure your own income, and don’t have too many children. Dohrmina says: “We didn’t even know what independence meant.”

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Like Dohrmina villagers have been paying more attention to their health now the Info Ladies make their visitswww.gmb-akash.com

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After measuring weight of the pregnant woman Mahfuza says, “You need to eat more,”

Of the 10 Info Ladies from Sathi’s group, seven are still active after three years. The Info Lady Mahfuza who is one of them rests her bike on the kickstand. Mahfuza is 22 years old and an Info Lady. She is part of a project in which young women use modern technology to distribute information to the most remote corners of Bangladesh. Mahfuza’s former classmates are now all married; most have one or two children. Some girls are married by the age of 13 or 14 and by the age of 20, parents actively look for a husband for their daughters. But Mahfuza learned to hold her head up.


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A camera transmits the image of the extended family – with the brown calf which has been given the name Bohon – from their village of Bangamur in the north of the country, showing the courtyard with its highly polished loam clay and hastily-stacked hay bales all the way to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital. Tajul Islam, son, husband, nephew, cousin – and sorely missed by his family for a decade – lives there, a distance of some 4,500 kilometres, slaving away on building sites and sending all the money he has left to the village. The time they talk every week via Skype is their only chance to hear and see each other.


Meanwhile Mahfuza sits under a roof made of bamboo leaves and takes measures the blood pressure of a pregnant woman. Someone from the crowd shouts: “she’s expecting a boy.” Mahfuzaa does not even look up from the blood pressure meter as she responds: “boy or girl, it does not matter, both are equally good.” Another lesson learned. Mahfuza is contacted by girls who need underwear but do not dare go into a store. She then goes shopping for them. Farmers ask Mahfuza what is wrong with their rice plants. She photographs spots on the leaves and sends the images to an expert in Dhaka.

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A grandmother holds her grandson in her arms. He seems apathetic, his arms and legs are hanging limply. Mahfuza throws a quick sideways glance to the mother standing by the roadside. “Did you have him vaccinated as I had suggested?” The mother shakes her head imperceptibly. Mahfuza exhales audibly, stroking her hand over the baby’s head. She promises to come back in a few days and take the child to a mobile clinic.

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The Info Lady Mahfuza also is a photographer. She sends a photo of a villager in her finery to her husband in the capital Dhaka/  www.gmb-akash.com

As a result, the women themselves experience a sense of freedom, empowerment and economic independence. This has started to change their country, still struggling with improving the historical violation of women’s right. They have become heroes for an entire generation of young women by giving them hope and inspiration to also be able to work and enjoy personal freedom in a predominantly Muslim country. Although proving to be a driving force of positive change and transformation, these Info Ladies have had to “walk on thorns”. They have fought against social stigma, a conservative Muslim society as well as deep cultural prejudices against the value and rights of women.


If they were able to change their lives so radically, why should this not also be possible for others?