In Sultanpur, a remote village in northern Bangladesh, many people live off the land or work odd jobs to make ends meet.
Until recently, Prosanto’s poverty burdened him with a sense of inferiority—toward villagers, and even toward his peers at school. An invisible wall separated him from the life he wanted; from friends and dreams of a better life.
Hunger was an issue, too.
“Very often I went to school without having any food. I was hungry and could not concentrate in the classes,” Prosanto says.
His parents struggled to pay for school, so Prosanto sometimes skipped school to earn a paycheck in the field. But he refused to drop out.
Things began to change when Prosanto started going to student gatherings that local World Vision staff members organized. The more he went, the more he saw an opportunity to pursue his dream. Because of his eagerness to engage, Prosanto got the chance to participate in World Vision’s life-skill-training course.
Through discussion groups, role-playing, and games, he learned to communicate more effectively, think more critically, and express ideas creatively. He and his classmates exercised these new skills while learning about issues pertinent to teenagers, such as the risks of early marriage, HIV and AIDS, drug addiction, and child trafficking.
"Kids like Prosanto come alive when they join life-skills courses," says Laura Bramon, a World Vision child protection and education expert. "They meet adults who recognize, applaud, and steward their gifts. They learn that their lives have worth, and that if they suffer violence, there are caring people to whom they can turn."
Prosanto was surprised to find changes in his own life within one month. “I found myself speaking openly with all without any hesitation and with confidence,” he says.
Now, Prosanto helps train his peers in the same life-skills program.
“Life-skills-based education has changed my life,” Prosanto says.
The United Nations says nearly half —621 million—of the world’s youth ages 15 to 24 years are not educated, employed, or in training. Youth today are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults.
Photo©2015 Binaton Tudu/World Vision