When Rakib, his mother Selina Begum and his two younger brothers were struggling for food, Rakib left school and went to work in a factory.

He was only ten-years old.

He had enjoyed school, and got good grades, but could not stay in school when he and his family couldn’t afford to eat.

He started working in the factory, making clothes. It was hard work. He had no time off, and had to report to the factory every morning at dawn, not leaving every day until the sun had gone down. Sometimes, he did not leave at all, but kept working through the night. Each month, he earned 1,500 Bangladeshi Taka (around GBP £12.50).

Exhausted and unwell

Every day, Rakib would come back exhausted. He had headaches, and constantly caught coughs and colds as he became more run down. The family had little money from Rakib’s father, a day labourer, who had taken a second wife and gave the majority of his earnings to her. Rakib’s earnings were needed to supplement his mother’s income from her work as a maid.

Rakib with his mother Selina Begum

Rakib with his mother Selina Begum

The family heard about the Elimination of Hazardous Child Labour (EHCL) project, run by Islamic Relief. The scheme, which comes to an end this month, offered alternative livelihood options to help people increase their earnings. It also helped children who had been forced to work for financial reasons return to school. It also raised community awareness about the impact of child labour.

Selina Begum received financial help, and was trained in sewing. She has now started a tailoring business. It has become successful and has rented a shop, buying fabrics from wholesale markets and taking orders from people for clothes. She is earning around 12,000 Bangladeshi Taka (around GBP £100) every month.

Planning for the future

She has also had training on running a business and health and hygiene issues. She is managing to save money every month.

Rakib, who is now 13, is back in school, and is at the top of his class. Islamic Relief pays for his text books, and school equipment

He said: “My aim in life is to become an engineer.”

Rakib was one of around 7.4 million children in Bangladesh who work. The work varies from factories to welding, car workshops, and domestic work – which Islamic Relief has been pushing to have officially recognised as hazardous labour

The project was part of a long-term plan to tackle child labour in Bangladesh and supports the government’s National Plan of Action 2012-2016. Our work has included looking at the causes and effects of child labour and designing new interventions to protect children from the harmful impact of work on their physical and emotional wellbeing.