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In the heart of Chilmari, a small village in the region of Kurigram, Bangladesh, a young woman named Kakoli Khatun is changing her life and her community.

At the age of 21, Kakoli's story is one of determination, dreams, and the transformative power women can have when they’re given a chance to shine.

A life laced with little prospects

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Kakoli Khatun, 21, takes care of her family's cattle and helps her father with household chores. Credit: Fabeha Monir/Christian Aid
Kakoli Khatun, 21, takes care of her family's cattle and helps her father with household chores.

'I didn’t have any dreams a few years ago. I didn’t have any money to do anything. To do something, I had to ask for money from my brothers and father.'

In Kurigram, where agriculture is the lifeline for most families, climate change and flood wreak havoc on their crops – leading to huge losses.

Kakoli, reliant on her father and brothers, didn't have the means to pursue her dreams and to make things happen.

But within her, a spark of ambition flickered. She longed for something more, something that would not only uplift her own family but also her entire community.

‘I explained to my parents that I don’t want to marry, let me grow up. I want to study now. I am in the first year of my degree course,’ Kakoli says.


Girls need education. If they got married at an early age, they don’t understand the value of education. When they have children, they make them marry early. The literacy rate drops gradually. We don’t realise that if we are educated, our children will be also.

- Kakoli.
It’s not too late to make a difference.

Christian Aid exists to create a world where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty. Though the Christmas season may be drawing to a close, our support certainly isn’t.

Changing her future

In the midst of her aspirations, Kakoli stumbled upon Nakshi Kantha, a centuries-old Bengali art tradition known for its exquisite embroidered quilts.

She recognised the potential of this traditional craft, not just as a source of income but also as a way to preserve a cherished cultural heritage.

Kakoli launched her business with training, start-up funding and support from Christian Aid and our partner Aid Comilla. Kakaoli says, ‘Without this support, we couldn’t do this work and couldn’t progress in the future.’

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Kakoli Khatun (21) sewing in her courtyard. Credit: Fabeha Monir/Christian Aid
 Kakoli Khatun sit son the floor sewing in her courtyard with three other women

We started the new [Nakshi Kantha] business this year. I was eager for this. Nakshi Kantha is from an old era. It’s getting lost and no one is paying attention. It’s very beautiful. If we can make it and sell it, we will earn and it will spread.

- Kakoli.

We were taught about e-commerce, internet browsing with a mobile phone, and how to know anything and do business.’

Together with 10 other young women, Kakoli has built a 21st century internet-based business by reviving the centuries-old art of Nakshi Kantha.

For Kakoli and the group members, it's not just a business. They love spending time together after finishing their handicraft work, all sharing a strong bond to try to change their lives through this business.  

Kakoli's vision

Kakoli values family above all else. The upbringing by Kakoli's parents during challenging times remains a cornerstone of her life. 

Kakoli's vision extended beyond her immediate family – determined to change her life and the community around her.

‘My family is the biggest thing to me. My parents raised me through difficulties, and their success is key to me,' Kakoli says.

Kakoli’s dream is to build the business to support her parents and other families in the community. 

Image credits and information i
Kakoli Khatun, (far left) stands in her courtyard with her family. Kakoli's family are supportive of her education and business. Credit: Fabeha Monir/Christian Aid
 Kakoli Khatun stands in her courtyard with her family - her mother, father, and two siblings