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Bilkis Begum (38), Rajshahi

My husband is a farmer and from the beginning of our marriage, I tried to help him in every possible way. He could not continue his education due to poverty but he made sure to educate his younger brother and my daughter. But life was hard. We had no idea how to improve our economic situation. I wanted to help my husband but I had no idea what I should do for the betterment of our family. Then in 2015, I received a six-month training course. Before the training course, I did not know how to cultivate. I had no idea about space utilization of my home garden, nutrition, raising hens, neither cow breeding or fish cultivation. After my six-month training course, I learned all these things and was able to utilize this knowledge to change my family’s situation. Before the training, I had to buy every food item from the village market. But now, I am cultivating all kinds of vegetables in my garden. I do not have to buy vegetables anymore. I am raising hens and I even have pigeons. My family is now self-reliant for vegetables, milk, eggs and fish. My family’s nutrition needs are met. After meeting my family’s needs, I am also selling all kinds of vegetables, eggs, and hens to my neighbours. The main happiness for us is that we are able to continue my brother-in-law’s education; he is going to college. My daughter reads in class ten and we are determined to educate her. My husband and I worked together to bring this change into our lives. Now we are capable of buying things that we once could only dream of. I am very cooperative with my neighbours. When someone comes for advice I do not hesitate to share my knowledge. A few months ago, my husband bought two bicycles, which would have been very difficult a year ago. Now, I do not have to depend on my husband’s income. I am earning from home, which makes me independent and enables me to take family decisions together with my husband. I never thought I would get this chance to invest in a new cow or for a goat. Now I can invest with my own savings. Our monthly income is 12000 taka now. A year ago it was half the amount. When my daughter asks to buy anything, I can give her the money. When relatives come to visit us, they wonder how our lives have changed so dramatically. We said, ‘Hard work and an opportunity can change everything.’