Zakia was born in Chotobaishdia, a neighboring island, to a family of eight children in total. She estimates her age at 40, meaning she was born around 1973. She was lucky to be able to study until grade 6. She was married around age 14 and then moved to live with her husband’s family in Katakhali a year later. She has three children: a girl age 20, Shahana; a boy age 15, Moshiur Rahman, and another boy age 9 or 10, Tulon. The girl studied up to grade 6 but was always bothered by boys and did not want to continue. Shahana got married around age 15 and lives in Jessore with her husband and child. Moshiur also studied up to grade 6 but then had to work to support the family. Zakia’s family had some difficult financial times and Moshiur had to cut soil for pay to help feed the family. The youngest boy, Tulon, is in school, in grade 4.
Zakia’s home was damaged by cyclone SIDR. She took shelter in the health clinic during the cyclone. She then joined the cooperative’s literacy classes and also learned vegetable gardening and wood block printing. She is thrilled that now she can help her youngest with his homework and also read to and help her grandchild. Zakia proudly showed me her huge garden/farm. She received lots of seeds from the cooperative, which made her very happy. She rented a tractor and planted peanuts, sweet potato, watermelon, and vegetables. Previously she used to plant only rice, but now she uses the land for a second round of production. She uses the vegetables and fruit to feed her own family and also sells them to supplement their income. Zakia has installed solar power on her home and even has a small television.