Mack Prioleau on the Inspiring Surfer Girls of Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, girls are expected to be married between the ages of 15 and 18. And they don’t spend their time being educated in schools. They are expected to help the family earn a living, and usually, by age 8 onwards, this is what they do. Hello, everyone. This is Mack Prioleau and today I thought I’d share with you the inspiring story of eight young girls who defied the odds and broke tradition to follow their dreams.
Swimming, I later learned, was considered as “indecent” for girls in Bangladesh.
Working at the break of dawn
For most of these girls, their day starts at the first sign of the sun rising. They would hit the beach area to sell whatever their mothers have prepared for them to sell; hard boiled eggs, snacks, water, and trinkets. Sometimes, when they’re not at the beach selling their merchandise, they are at someone’s house serving as their housekeeper or cleaner. Such is the kind of life that most of these girls live every day—and it’s the only kind of life that they know.
But as we all know, life sometimes has a weird way of working out differently from how we planned it.
Some people may call it fate or destiny, while others deem it as Divine intervention, but whatever it was, one thing was certain; one incident on one particular afternoon was about to change the course of the lives of these girls.
It was Shoma Akthar who saw a lifeguard riding the waves on a surfboard. Fascinated, she told the man she wanted to do that too. The man, Rashed Alam, agreed to teach her. The lessons were to start the following morning but Shoma didn’t show up. It would take her several weeks to finally muster up the courage to show up.
It was one thing to break tradition and an entirely different matter to go behind her mother’s back. To cut a long story short, Shoma took the lessons and soon enough, other girls followed her lead. Their coach was all-out in giving his support to the girls—to the point of visiting each of the girls’ houses to talk to their parents.
The news wasn’t received well as you could imagine but after a long, hard-fought battle, the girls and their coach slowly won over the parents’ hearts and although reluctantly, they gave their blessing.
More girls have joined since then. Today, the girls are not only being taught surfing techniques; they are also being given lessons on life skills: CPR and rescue, and English language lessons. Incidentally, Shoma joined a local competition where she bagged third place and won $40—what she would’ve earned working as a housekeeper for two months.
This inspiring story shows us that no dream is too big for someone who believes in herself. It also shows how one person’s faith and belief in the girls ultimately changed the girls’ course in life.
There’s one other inspiring surfer girl that I know of, and I’d also like to share her story one of these days. You may have heard of her; Bethany Hamilton.
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