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SUKTARA: Showing way like the evening star

Close geographical proximity with Khulna, one of the major metropolitan cities in Bangladesh, has never been a blessing for Rupsha. Populated almost entirely by working class people who are either fishermen or farmers or salt-factory laborers, Rupsha has never been well off.

Poverty has pushed many children in this area to drop out of school. As a result, literacy has never been a strong point for Rupsha either.

That is exactly where begins the story of SUKTARA, the Bangla word for evening star, which, like its name, has been showing way to the destitute. With whatever meagre resources it has, SUKTARA – Somaj Unnayan Kendro for Training, Rehabilitation and Advocacy – has given primary education to a total of 60 former school dropouts since 2011. It has also arranged special livelihood training for local women so that they could become self-sufficient.

In 2015, SUKTARA won the Joy Bangla Youth Award as a recognition of its good work in bringing dropouts back into the mainstream of education. And since then, things have changed for the good.

“A few years ago, I took sewing training from the government’s youth development project. Since then, I have trained 20 women from my locality who are now very much self-reliant,” said Fahima Khatun, one of the frontrunners of SUKTARA.

Fahima, who is an active employee of the organization, played an instrumental role in bringing SUKTARA to the limelight and eventually steered the organization towards winning the Joy Bangla Youth Award in 2015.

“After getting this award, things have been drastically easier for us. We never got good response from local people. But after getting the award, we now have greater acceptability. More importantly, now we have a strong identity and a voice,” said Fahima, who is now pursuing a master degree in public administration at a local college in Khulna.