Our impact, Their voices

Mastering the sewing machine with dwarfism

The Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), under the Technical and Madrasa Education Division (TMED), Ministry of Education, has carried out several steps in collaboration with the ILO’s EU funded Skills 21 project to make its TVET institutes accessible for all.

Feature | Dhaka | 21 July 2022
Mosammat Maryam, Student, Sewing Machine Operation, Khulna Mahila Polytechnic Institute © ILO
My name is Mosammat Maryam. I live in Alam Nagar Khulna with my parents and younger brother. I am congenitally physically handicapped. For a long time, I was suffering from anaemia. When I was in the third grade, a doctor from abroad came to Khulna. My parents learned that during the pregnancy my mother had some complications that had caused dwarfism - a growth disorder characterized by shorter than average body height.

Despite the obstacles, I always wanted to study. I passed the HSC in 2016 even though I missed my studies in the middle. Then I got married to my cousin. Shortly after the marriage, I gave birth to a child. Unfortunately, my child died within a few days.
After that, I had a terrible mental breakdown. The whole time my family and in-laws were by my side to help me overcome the grief. After overcoming the misery of losing my baby, I again enrolled in college to complete my studies. At the same time, I also completed a computer course.

The Mohanogor Protibondhi Shongstha (Disability Development Organization), organised various activities to engage us in education and work. One day, I learned that skills training was provided in several courses at Khulna Mahila Polytechnic Institute so that we can acquire some skills and can enter into the world of work.

Khulna Mohila Polytecnic institute provides adjustable table for the persons with disabilities to make TVET more inclusive© ILO
I first came to Khulna Mahila Polytechnic Institute with five other students who have different types of disabilities to find out the details about the course. Others with me enrolled in a graphics design course, but I choose the sewing machine course instead. Some people asked me how could I do this course because my arms and legs are shorter than usual. But I had seen that the machines were specially designed so that people with physical disabilities like me can also use them. That was very encouraging for me, and this was the first time I learned that these institutes are accessible for everyone.

Although I started the course a little late, my instructors were very accommodating. They helped me overcome the lessons I missed with encouragement and took extra care to help me catch up. At first it was a little challenging to understand how the sewing machine worked but after a while I mastered using it very well.

My other classmates also helped me at different times. In addition to the practical classes, our training materials were also beautifully made and easily understood. I plan to finish this training and buy a sewing machine for my home.
I have also been thinking about opening a tailoring shop in the future. Now that tailoring is in high demand; I believe I will do well. I am grateful that these activities are being promoted for disadvantaged people like us and I am very thankful to the ILO and the European Union for supporting us.