Brave Mother Jamila: The (not) Collapsed World
"Mummy, are you dancing? Don't you have any work to do?" giggles son Himu, the youngest of three Jamila´s children. He cannot grasp, that his mother is cheerfully hopping in front of an old TV. However, when she was pregnant with him, she did not jump for joy. Her husband left her, her mother passed away, she was left alone without funds, pregnant with two small children. By the day, her whole World collapsed.
Whole Her World Collapsed
How this all actually happened? Jamila´s World began to break down when she was at 4th class of primary school. She was 12. Her father got ill and died shortly. It was cancer. Jamila saw him dying. Family with 6 children was strongly affected. Emotionally as well as economically. Her mother, herself ill, involved Jamila and her younger sister to field work. Brothers did not help, one of them was drug addicted. And so, besides the school, Jamila drudged in field. They had hard times but they struggled through somehow.
Shortly after marriage Jamila got pregnant and gave a birth to a daughter named Happy. She was still a child herself: “ I wanted to play and I was sorry, that I can´t go out with other children”, she says. With her husband they lived in a village house with land. They planted rice, fruits and vegetables. She was very young and the marriage seemed to be happy. Especially when after 4 years a son called Hira was born and the father was very proud of him. Then a sudden turn over came. When Jamila got pregnant with her third child, her husband sold the house and field and left them. At the same time Jamila´s mother died. Jamila was left alone. Without father, mother, husband and without shelter and funds. Whole her world broke down.
The Bravest Mother
At this moment, Jamila contemplated a suicide. She was desperate. And since she had nobody to help, she turned herself to God. And God help her in the crises. “I took the Bible, press it to my chest, I prayed and cried” tells Jamila moved. Then she browsed through and in the Book of prophet Isaiah she found the encouragement that gave her strength and hope. “Do not be afraid, I am with you, let nothing terrify you, I am your God. I will make you strong and help you, I will protect you and save you” (Isaiah 41,10) That was the deciding moment. She decided, she will not give up.
Jamila realized, she cannot simply escape from her life. Who would take care of her children? It was the hardest period of her life, which she could never imagine. Suddenly, she had nothing at all. She was alone. As soon as possible after the labour she had to strike out on her own and start to work.
Her neighbour helped her in those days. She could stay for some time with her. She gave birth to son Himu and when he was half a year old, she sent him to her older sister. She started to work in a nearby orphanage of non-profit organization BanglaHope. When Himu grew up, he started to go to kindergarten, and later with his brother Hiru to primary school in village Beldanga. From here, children went to SAMS boarding school.
Hard Work in Garment Factory
In the garment factory she was working 12 hrs a day (from 8 AM to 8 PM) with an hour lunch break, 6 days a week. Official working time was 3 hrs shorter (from 8 AM to 5 PM) but she often worked overtime to earn more – 9.000 Taka a month (2.420 Kč). During bank holidays she was visiting her children at SAMS. It took her the whole night to come back by bus to be next morning at her sewing machine in the factory again. Costs of living in the capital were high and she was struggling to cover all needs of her children. She missed them very much. She was living and hard working in this way for 3 years. She does not know herself, how she could survive such tempo. But she managed. The hardest thing for her was the separation from her children, whom she loved.
From Garment Factory to Restaurant, Closer to Children
After 3 years, when she was hardly seeing her children, Jamila solved the situation. She moved back to a village an hour walk from the SAMS boarding school. She works now in a chinese restaurant and earns 5.000 Taka (about 1.345 Kč) She can effort a rent of 2 room flat at much better price than in Dhaka (1.000 Taka a month) but it still not enough. She told us: “Sometimes I have to buy sandals for the children and then we are short of money. I cannot buy food and new clothing for children at the same time. We do not have money to spare but we will overcome it somehow“.
Sometimes it is really difficult. Jamila says: “It is very hard, if we do not have money for food, however children never say: mummy, we want to eat. They know, mother has no money. They are brave and do not complicate it for me. Then I pray in the night, when I have nothing to give them.”
Children – Our Future
Given their age, Jamila´s children are very mature, responsible and hardworking. During holidays the older daughter Happy and son Hira help in the restaurant and contribute to the family budget. 16 years old Hira has best results at school and excellent motivation. To the question, if he plans to get married after studies he replays: “No, I am not getting married. At first, I must take care of my brother, to make sure he finishes studies and also to secure my mother”. Hira is aware of everything that mother did for him and his siblings and with pleasure accepts his responsibility for her old age.
Jamila can be proud of her children. She gave them everything she could and they are starting to pay it back. When they are at home during holidays she uses every minute to keep the family together. Then they talk together, play, eat and dance, what, as we already know, Himi cannot grasp. In the evening, when children fall asleep, Jamila is watching them. She enjoys the moments, when they are closed and thinks about their future. Happy will become an IT engineer, Hira wants to work as graphic designer and Himu doesn´t know yet. Mother wants him to become teacher or some officer.
Tears of Gratitude
We visited Jamila in 2018. She shared her story with us in rented 2 rooms flat. She showed us the restaurant, where she works now. When saying goodbye, tears appeared in her eyes. She was very glad that we visited her. She is very thankful to donors from the Czech Republic, who helped her and her children to have better life. Yes, this help has a deep human meaning. And this brave woman knows it well. And so, she can be sometimes cheerfully hopping in front of an old TV.